The Art of Persuasion: Communication Tools For Any Sales Manager Looking to Have a Greater Influence on Their Salespeople. Interview With Dr. Rick Kirschner – Part 2

Here’s part 2 of the interview I conducted With Dr. Rick Kirschner
regarding what managers can do to drive greater results, better motivate their salespeople and boost productivity by utilizing these powerful communication strategies.


KR: How can a sales manager leverage the power of persuasion to increase the motivation and performance of her sales people?

DRK: That’s a big question, big enough to write a book, so I did, two books in fact. That’s a key point of my Insider’s Guide and Playbook To The Art of Persuasion! But here’s the quick answer. Persuasion is the deliberate attempt to influence another person’s attitude in order to change their behavior. Once you’ve paid some attention, listened well and learned about what motivates your people, using the Kirschner Motivational Model or McClelland’s Model or Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs Model, or any other motivation model that appeals to you, it is important that you use what you’ve learned to speak to the motivations of your people in a way that moves them, engages them and connects them to a desirable future while offering them protection from an undesirable one.

This has to do with what you say, and also how you say it. The fact is that most people are listening emotionally most the time, and logically only rarely. So, no matter how logical you are in what you propose they do, you have to send signals that help your people feel that they should let themselves be influenced by you. Otherwise, you may be wasting both their time and yours.

There are known ways to package what you say for maximum impact. I call these packaging tools ‘signals,’ ‘guides’ and ‘themes.’ Signals speak to how you address the emotions. Guides make it easier for others to understand the logic of what you say. Themes are a way of structuring what you say to help you stay on track while saying it.

The more you use this kind of approach, the more successful you will be in getting a sustainable result.

KR: Teamwork is an important part of any successful sales organization. How can sales coaches increase commitment and elevate the motivation among their sales people?

DRK: Almost nobody goes to work wanting to do a bad job. Most people want to do well, and want what they do to matter. So it seems to me that teamwork happens when leadership happens, and leadership begins with you knowing the answers to three very important questions. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Why does it matter? Once you have the answers to these questions firmly fixed in your mind, you can help your sales people to find their own answers to these questions and then keep those answers in front of them as a reminder of meaning and purpose.

Of course, it’s one thing to have a lofty vision, and something else entirely when it comes to the rubber meeting the road. So to keep your people connected and focused, you simply must treat them with respect, keep them informed along the way, and give recognition whenever it’s due, and not just in the large things but in the small things as well. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for speaking up. Thanks for standing up. Thanks for keeping your promise. Thanks for following through. My mom used to tell me that there is always something to appreciate, you just have to appreciate the value of appreciation to find it.

KR: What are the most successful tactics used by sales managers/coaches when they are faced with bad behavior within a sales team that can negatively impact the entire team’s results?

DRK: Most of us can agree that what’s bad about bad behavior is the bad effect it has on morale, teamwork and getting results. There’s no getting around the fact that pushy, negative, disruptive and unreliable behavior is costly because it has real world consequences.

But I think it’s important to keep in mind that behavior is purposeful, people do what they do for what they consider a good reason, and labeling a particular behavior as good or bad may do little to influence whether you get more or less of it. More important, I think, is to understand what’s behind it for them. Then, using your understanding of their good intent as a reference point, you can help your people understand that the consequences of their behavior are self defeating to their good intentions. Done persuasively, and they’ll be grateful for the insight and opportunity to learn. And you, as a result, will get better results from your people.

So what specifically do you do when there’s a problem with someone’s behavior? First, observe it. Notice what is happening, when it happens, where it happens and how it happens. Then get together with the person or people involved, and learn everything you can about it from them. Set the stage by telling them what you’ve observed, where and when you observed it, and then ask them, “When this happens, what’s going on for you? What is your intention?” Next, tell them the self defeating part. “When you do that, here’s the reaction it gets. Is that what you intended?” And the answer is almost always going to be “No, it’s not!” That’s your learning moment, right there. “What do you think might work better?” Either give your people a chance to come up with a new choice, or, if they’re drawing a blank, either brainstorm with them, or tell them what you know could work better. In any case, you’ll have set the table for learning. A little reinforcement, and it becomes their skill for life.

To read more of Dr. Rick Kirschner’s suggestions for improving your ability to use persuasion to create positive change in your life, relationships, and work, visit Dr. K’s Blog here: