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The Sales Shrink: Behavior Therapy #8 – “Listen With Your Eyes”

by Tina Cherpes, Featured Contributor

“IT’s LIKE herding cats” Jodie chuckled as she described a typical Saturday afternoon coaching her nine-year-old daughter’s soccer team.  “I really need to videotape it; I mean I’ll say “listen up” and maybe two out of twelve will even look in my direction; my daughter included.”

sales shrinkIn every aspect of selling, from Main Street dating to Wall Street trading, learning how to effectively transfer information can play a crucial role in our success and there is a huge disparity between how we attempt to transmit information and how that information is being received/processed.

A vast majority of the time, we attempt to influence others verbally (through our words) yet there is a great deal of consensus surrounding the amount of information that actually transfers through words alone; in fact, studies reveal that the actual number is less than ten percent.  It’s helpful for us to understand that while words are important, words alone play a relatively minor role in the transfer of information.

Roughly forty percent of information transfers through our vocal tone and warmth.  Simply defined, when it comes to how information transfers, what we say is far less important than how we say it.  And, the collective power of our words, tonality, and warmth combined, still represent less than half of the entire process.

The other half transmits visually, through what is seen.  Our body language, facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures, hair, teeth, nails all contribute more than fifty percent of the process total. Which means the visuals we create, have a bigger impact on our audience than what we say, and how we say it, combined.

Knowing how information transfers can help us increase our effectiveness.  If we’re working in telesales and have no opportunity to create visual transmission, to maximize our effectiveness we can focus our efforts on our tone and the warmth of our message.  Face-to-face selling provides the added luxury of visual transmission, which from a statistical standpoint (and forgiving the pun) is more than half the battle.

Perhaps the greatest insight we can glean (and one to which Jodie can attest) is that if we want to create maximum effectiveness, words alone simply do not add significant value.  And based on the ratios, we would be well served by learning to speak a whole lot less and learning to listen way more intently with our eyes.


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