Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beyond IQ. Social Intelligence (SI). A journey into S.P.A.C.E.

Have you ever wondered how highly success sales people navigate social situations so skillfully and seem to always know how and when to engage others in ways that are effective in any sales situation?

Success in sales is nearly always based on superior intelligence. Superior market intelligence, superior competitive intelligence, superior customer intelligence and superior intelligence of the sales team or sales person. Personal intelligence or IQ (Intelligent Quotient) used to be considered as the single best predictive indicator of Intelligence and therefore personal capacity and capability at work and in life. This was followed by the more complete concept of Multiple Intelligences (MI) which divided intelligence into 6 categories: Abstract Intelligence – symbolic reasoning, Social Intelligence – dealing with people (the subject of this post), Practical Intelligence – getting things done, Emotional Intelligence – self-awareness and self-management, Aesthetic Intelligence – the sense of form, design, music, art and literature and Kinesthetic Intelligence – whole-body skills like sports, dance, or music.
So what is Social Intelligence (SI) and more importantly how can I get more of it? Here is a simple 5 part model that you can use to develop your current level of Social Intelligence. Based on the book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, by Karl Albrecht, Jossey-Bass, 2006

S.P.A.C.E.: The 5 Skills of Human Interaction:

Situational Awareness: the ability to read situations and to interpret the behaviors of the people in those situations, in terms of their possible intentions, emotional states and ease of interaction.
Presence: a range of verbal and nonverbal signals, one’s appearance, posture, voice quality, subtle movements, a whole collection of inputs that one uses to form an overall impression of a person.
Authenticity: how others interpret our behavior to judge us as honest, open, ethical, trustworthy, well-intentioned or otherwise.
Clarity: our ability to explain ourselves, illuminate ideas, communicate data clearly and accurately, articulate our views and proposed courses of action, enables us to get others to co-operate with us.
Empathy: a shared “feeling” between two people, a state of “connectedness” with another person, which creates the basis for positive interaction and co-operation.

By studying our performance in each of these 5 dimensions we can: i) determine where we are today, ii) decide where we want to be tomorrow, and iii) put in place a simple action plan to progress in each competence area as desired.
The best way to do this is to make your journey into S.P.A.C.E. an everyday exercise of observation, learning and development. By expanding your S.P.A.C.E. you will be more effective at tapping into your customers collective minds and that means more and bigger sales. Good selling!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Asking Questions in Colour

“You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions."

Asking questions is one of the best ways I know to get information. But not all questions are created equal. Insightful and profound questions invite equally insightful and profound answers. In sales great questions bring out lots of valuable information about the customer’s needs, desires and concerns. So, how do you ask great questions that uncover the real facts, opinions and feelings?
1) Get in the flow of Open -> Closed Questions: The first thing to keep in mind when asking questions is to start with open questions and then progressively move to more closed questions as you seek more specific information. Only when you have reached a clear and quantified response to a specific question should you move on to the next question area.
2) Ask White, Green, Black and Red Questions: This is a simple and easy way to remember a powerful sequence of questions that go directly to the real issue(s) that will directly uncover a maximum of information, rich in facts, opinions and feelings. How does it work?
You need to remember two things: 1) what each colour represents and 2) to always use the questions in same colour sequence - white, green, black and red.
White Questions: Current situation. Facts, data and information. Think of white snow: pure, cold hard facts. Example: “How would you characterize your Managed Services business in the Small and Medium Business market segment in Western Europe today?”
Green Questions: Desired situation. Future state. Think of grass, trees, growth, what a situation can become. Example: “Looking to the future, where would you like your business to be 12 months from now?”
Black Questions: Obstacles, contraints or limitations. Important and powerful, yet often left unasked. Think of night time or being in the dark, you can’t see in the dark. Turn on the light to see what stands between you (your current position) and where you want to go (your desired future situation). Example: “What do you see as being the major challenges or constraints you will face in getting there?”
Red Questions: Feelings. Fire, red is an explosive color, highly emotionally charged. Example: “If any one of these constraints significantly delayed your progress against plan, what would be the impact on you and your team?”

Once you have got answers to these four questions you can determine not only what to sell but more importantly how to sell. Experiment by asking questions in colour at your next customer meeting and you will discover that you gain more and richer information that will help you to make more sales. You will also discover that you will be seen as a valued resource by your customers.