My friend Don Hutson has a career in speaking, management, and sales that spans time, geography, and industry. His client list includes over half of the Fortunate 500. He’s the CEO of U.S. Learning and has appeared on numerous national television programs. He previously served as the President of the National Speakers Association.
Given this extensive background, I wanted to talk with Don about two subjects: sales and communication.
In this first video interview, I talk to Don about sales.
What’s In and Out
He shares that closing is out while gaining commitment is in. Overcoming objections is also out replaced by dealing with concerns. Even listening is upgraded from a passive activity to power listening, requiring action.
“Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation.” –Richard Nixon
It’s a handbook of sorts, a reference book, filled with clever phrases and questions all designed to help you in conflict situations.
After reading it, I decided to put it to use immediately. I read a few of the phrases before attending most of my meetings. What I found was that I was asking better questions and was a more focused listener.
I recently asked Barbara more about her work.
“Knowing when to fight is just as important as how.” –Terry Goodkind
Practice, practice, practice! Many of us are uncomfortable with conflict to the point where we not just shy away from it—we run from it and give in rather than dealing with it. It takes courage and practice to have conflict muscle, but we also want people to know that not all conflict is “bad.” Having differences of opinion can spur creativity and positive change in organizations and personal relationships.
Talk about the power of listening.
Most of us think we’re really good listeners, but what we really do is, while the other person is talking, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say when they stop speaking. That’s not listening. Listening is putting your own thoughts aside to focus on the words being said but also observing body language and facial expressions to really get what the person is saying. Our ever-increasing virtual world makes listening even more difficult, so whenever possible, have difficult conversations face to face. But if you can’t be in the same place, use Facetime or Skype so least you can see each other. A good listener uses techniques like paraphrasing back what they heard to ensure both people are on the same wave length. Listening takes practice—just like any other communication form. We spend a lot time learning how to speak to be understood or how to write well but not much time learning how to listen.
“If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.” –Thomas Edison
Business leaders always look for ways to boost engagement and productivity, but few of us would start with meetings. A 2015 Harris Poll found that going to meetings is the biggest obstacle to getting work done. Many of us see meetings as a necessary evil. For most C-suite executives, meetings devour 40% of our worktime: focusing on them even more is not exactly appealing.
Harris Research: Meetings are the biggest obstacle to getting work done.
But creating better meetings is a highly effective way to make your people happier, energized and more productive — without increasing their hours or salary. Here’s one simple but effective approach with an immense payoff: Don’t think of it as a meeting. Instead, think of being on an airplane flight, with the meeting participants as the passengers.
Confined in a small space together for a designated period of time, passengers are subject to possibly rough weather, unpleasant neighbors, a fatigued pilot, or worse. But we all have to fly. It’s a useful analogy since that’s what it feels like, most of the time, to be in a meeting. Imagine your people’s surprise when you can make the “flight” a whole lot more bearable in 5 practical steps:
1. Question its necessity.
Start planning the meeting by asking if it’s even necessary. As a leader, you sometimes challenge teams to justify the purpose behind an action. First identify the meeting’s purpose, then ask if it’s best served by a meeting, or there’s another way.
2. Measure the cost.
Meetings all have a cost. There’s the cost of what people are paid to sit in the meeting and there’s the price of all the work they’re not doing because they’re in a meeting. Knowing the cost, is the meeting worth it?
A business that delivers reliable results is the sum of reliable teams, and reliable teams are the sum of reliable individuals. So, building reliable business results really starts with a leader coaching each team member to deliver reliable individual results.
“Personal reliability is a cornerstone of leadership.” -Lee Colan
Personal reliability is a cornerstone of leadership. Ken May began working at FedEx while he was in college. He started at the bottom sorting packages. He gradually worked his way up, becoming the Senior Vice President of North American Operations. He then became CEO of FedEx Kinko’s and is currently CEO of Topgolf. When asked about his career climb, May is quick to say, “I just work hard at whatever I do. I don’t complain. I don’t blame. I just work hard. I’m grateful for my job, my organization and my customers. I try to never promise what I can’t deliver.”
May knows that he can’t expect anything from his employees that he isn’t willing to model. His employees know they have a boss, a friend and an example in May. He, in turn, has a loyal workforce. As May has been heard to say, “Personal reliability at the top is the beginning of a successful organization, a dedicated workforce and loyal customers.”
3 Levels of Leadership
Leadership is an inside job. It starts inside with your personal leadership traits, such as integrity, trust, competence, authenticity – all of which are aspects of personal reliability. In fact, our company logo is a group of three stacked L’s representing the three levels of leadership: personal, team and organizational. You cannot expect your team to be reliable (or any other trait for that matter) if you are not being reliable. Since reliability, like leadership, is built from the inside out, the most important question a leader should ask is, “How reliable am I?”
“Reliability, like leadership, is build from the inside out.” -Lee Colan
Organizations have blundered in their attempts to provide purpose and meaning for employees. But meaning and purpose are not something that companies can provide.
Meaning is a human need that runs an operating system intrinsic to itself. No one can plot it for us; we can’t download it and install it like an app. We can’t live up to or adopt values painted on the wall.
Until we understand the principles of how meaning works for the organization and for human beings, and implement processes that will allow meaning to occur, we’ll continue to experience the churn that comes from lack of alignment.
Consider these five break-through insights that can help create a meaningful workplace:
1. Learn how meaning works.
Meaning is created daily through experience and interactions we have with everything in our lives. We have an inner dialogue with our work, relationships and organizations. Our meaning is the result of how we interpret and interact with our world. When work is meaningful, we strive to improve and engage more deeply with it. When we share meaning with a group or company, each is enhanced and grows. But make no mistake: meaning can’t be given; it can only be shared.
2. Make meaning the key to organizational excellence, and to personal excellence.
BE Aerospace won a contract to create a product with multiple iterations in a highly regulated environment. It hired a slew of top engineers in the UK, but the flow of engineers out the door was as steady as the flow coming in. It was killing the company’s ability to deliver. By interrogating and mining the meaning of the company, it became clear that the engineers who were leaving weren’t aligned with those who were staying, even though they thought they were. The message from management in the recruiting phase missed the essence of who they were. Those who left described the work as overwhelming, with impossible challenges and unsolvable problems. The ones who were engaged and loved what they did were fulfilled by the challenge. As one employee put it, “It’s like being dropped into the ocean with no beach in sight — so you start swimming and soon you learn it’s a damn fine beach when you get there.” Because traditional job descriptions and marketing messages dominated the employment conversation, everyone missed the conversation about what mattered most.