You need to let people say what they need. So shut up.

The Great Shut Up by Leonardo DiCaprio

As a former salesman, a manager of 1.000+ customers and a leader of a 30+ members team I need to remind myself about this all the time. Like so many things in life it’s not complicated, but it’s hard to remember in everyday life.

Recently I read yet another book about leadership. I love books because they are like having a good conversation with a really smart person. There were some ideas I would like to share with you if you’re interested in stepping up your management or sales skills.

The ideas I’m going to describe to you can help you not only in a business context. It can help you with employees, customers, friends, family or partners if you follow some easy steps.

The idea is all about helping people to realize the value of a solution to a problem. Many good salesmen (and -women) are excellent in guiding the customer through a shitload of information just to make a sale. Obviously it’s not only about the sale. It’s about creating value to someone.

If you don’t understand why you need to create value, please go one step back and ask yourself why there are cancellations: Someone did not get the value he or she was expecting and: CANCELLED. We don’t want that. It’s a waste of time for both you and the customer. I’m deeply convinced of creating value for customers and employees is essential if you want to become successful.

What the fuck is he talking about?

So here’s the idea: If your customer describes the value of your product all by him-/herself, then your are going to make the sale.

We trust ourself more than we trust anyone else. That’s good. And that is why everyone has to walk the walk on their own.

The managers or salesmans job is to help the employee or customer to find value: Not to tell him the solution nor to lead him to the value with suggestive questions. It’s a process and it requires a lot of training to get people there and not to get lost on the way. If your employee or customer is missing knowledge: give it to them. If he is too lazy to find out the value all by himself: Do not give it to them. Build a bridge and lead him to his or her value. You can do that by asking “How can you achieve x?” or “I believe you can find a solution by yourself. Think about it and come back to me tomorrow.” Make their brains work!

There is a metaphor for all the gym-enthusiasts out there. If you train your muscles, you become stronger. If someone else is carrying your weights for you, your muscles will decrease and you’ll become weaker and weaker until you become comfortable with your weakness. Don’t make your customers and employees weak.

Help them to describe their problem. Empower them to find the value that they are going to unlock by solving their problem and bring them on their own way to their solution.

You need to let people say what they need. So shut up and you’ll help people become more independent. I assure you that you’re going to profit from their growth although most of the work will be done by them.

Bonus: If they try to give the mental work back to you (as they learned that your are going to solve their problems) stay hard. They are going to explain you a lot of things that will seem obvious to you and they will treat you like a child, who doesn’t understand anything, but that is necessary. The have to go through their own process of thinking to be convinced of the value and the solution they are about to propose.

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