Do We Sell or Tell To Get Action?

take.action.tour_Social is here but is it driving people to action? We have spent decades researching and discovering how to communicate, motivate and collaborate with people. We’ve studied generational and cultural differences; methods and techniques; channel and venues. We pour over statistics to make informed decisions. But, is any of this helping us get people to read or listen? I know there are many of you who would have statistics to tell me “yes”!

I learned a long time ago that people pay attention to communications from the top. As flat as we’d like to be, if my manager or anyone in my chain sends me an email, text, IM or blog, I will read it. But, now we have social experts telling us that peer review and peer opinion drive eye-catching interest and translate into action. That we listen to and trust our peers more than our “superiors”. I feel that is true but maybe in a different context.

I personally believe that to motivate different behavior, a message from my manager will motivate me to change but so will a message from a trusted colleague IFthat message has a story I can relate to and a result that is impactful enough. From the top, it’s enough to TELL me what is expected. From my peers, it’s all about SELLing me to get me to change.

Imagine if the tell and sell could be combined in a communication strategy – managers AND peers? I think that would double your success for changing behavior, which is the intended result of most communication strategies.

Capturing Mindshare

Often I read articles about influencing others and selling ideas. It might be difficult to sell new ideas at the moment, but I believe knowledge and learning professionals can focus on laying groundwork and capturing mindshare to position themselves for the future. While people may not be buying the latest, greatest, concepts right now, that time will come again, and we need to be remembered.

What is mindshare? Mindshare is the ability to generate an impression that you are credible, you will deliver what they need, you actually understand and relate to their issues even when you haven’t experienced them yourself first-hand.

When I was a younger professional, I designed and delivered sales and sales management training to an older, more seasoned audience than myself. Admittedly, I had never been a sales manager and had never walked in their shoes but what I had done was a lot of shadowing, interviewing and observing. One day, I described what I knew to be their day-to-day experiences and fed back to the group what I knew to be their problems and opportunities. It was like I had said the most profound thing in the world. Everyone smiled; some even cheered: “That’s exactly what we go through; that’s exactly what we have been saying!”

From that day forward, I had captured, which allowed me to introduce two new items – a homegrown best practices toolkit, which was met with a lot of leadership skepticism that it would be adopted, as well as a new sales process that turned these distributors from being transactional to more consultative in their approach. The company enjoyed great success as a result of both of those programs.

How do you capture mindshare?

ASK questions (even if you know the answer)


LISTEN again

OBSERVE directly

WALK in THEIR SHOES (even when it’s not your job)