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Use EEE™ Representational System to Manage Your Sales Team

You cannot not communicate. Communication differentiates us from animals. We exchange meaning and respond to each other through dialogue.

The most important process in any interaction is rapport. Rapport is responsiveness — you don’t have to ‘like’ the other person; it is something we do with another person. Remember that rapport is a process, not a thing.

Without rapport, two people cannot trust each other and probably won’t even hear each other correctly. As manager, if you don’t have rapport with your team, you won’t get the outcome you want.

Good communication stems from good rapport and appreciating the unique way that the other person maps the world. You can achieve good rapport easily by matching your body language, voice tonality, and words you use to those you want to influence.

At the heart of good communication are four concepts:

  1. Know what you want and why you want it, and make sure your desired outcome is ‘ecological’ — good for you and for the people you work with.
  2. Do something about it. Take action to make your outcome happen — nothing will happen unless you do something! The results you get, whatever they are, will provide you with useful additional information to learn from.
  3. Notice what happens (have sensory acuity). Notice the results you get from your actions. Are your actions bringing you closer or further away from your goal? See, hear, and feel how the other people are responding.
  4. Be flexible. If what you have been doing isn’t working, do something else. Keep changing what you do or say until you get what you want.

Can you speak the language of your sales team?

If they believe you understand them and you seem to have insight into their mind, they will trust you. To be trusted, you need to learn how to listen. Don’t worry; it is easy if you know what to listen for and how to use that information.

You can learn how to speak your sales teams’ language by using words that match their preference. Once you adjust your words to match what they need to hear, you will create rapport and gain their trust.

Your sales team members use three sensory channels to represent their experience — visual (Eyes), auditory (Ears or hearing), and kinesthetic (Emotions, touch and bodily sensations). In addition, we make sense of our experience through words.

All of our memories, imagination, and current experience are made up of elements of the EEE™ Representational System. Most of us use one system more than the others, and this appears in the words that we use.

When people speak, they primarily use one representational system. You can listen for dominant sensory words when others speak and reply using the same representation system for more effective communication.

So, what is the EEE™ Representational System?

The first E is for the Eye, or visual representation.

Listen to your sales team members to hear if they use words like: Picture, clear, sight, see, light, focus, vision, draw, outlook, preview, paint.

They could use visual phrases like: Appears to me; beyond a shadow of a doubt; get a perspective on; in light of; in view of; looks like; showing off; sight for sore eyes; under your nose; up front.

To match someone’s phrases, use the same language preference. For example, if someone says: “Looks like we need to do…” you need to respond with a visual phrase such as: “Let me show you what we need to do about it…”

If you use visual words with a ‘visual’ person, it’s easier for them to understand because they don’t have to translate from another system. This is another way to gain rapport; you sound more like the other person, and therefore more familiar.

To influence a visually-minded team member, use graphs, pictures, and videos to make your point. Help them see the opportunities within your team and the possible outcomes.

If you manage sales team members remotely, use video communication like Skype and try to avoid the phone; they are known to be poor listeners. They will begin to visualize what you are telling them over the phone and drift away. Confirm what they see in their head and ask them to repeat your instructions back to you. Visual people are often unaware that other sales team members or customers can’t visualize what they’re thinking.

Questions to ask are: Can you see what I am saying? Is that aligned with your vision?

The second E stands for the Ear, or auditory representation.

Try to listen for words like: hear, clear, music, rhythm, loud, sound, tell, voice, unheard of, rumble, tone.

People who prefer this system use phrases like: Clearly expressed; call on; describe in detail; earful; hidden message; hold your tongue; loud and clear; manner of speaking; power of speech; rings a bell; to tell the truth; unheard of; voice an opinion.

If you want to influence them, you need to talk to them. Auditory people can be persuaded by hearing quotes from satisfied customers. To motivate them, you need to tell them what clients said about your product or service. Even better, play the audio recording of a testimonial (if you have one).

They will not read any written materials. Use the phone as your main tool of communication if you manage them remotely.

If you use auditory words with an ‘auditory’ person, it’s easier for them to understand because they don’t have to translate from another system.

Questions to ask are: Do you hear what I am saying? Does it sound like something we can agree upon?

And finally, the third E stands for Emotion.

Listen to words like: Grasp, handle, feel, rough, smooth, slippery, hurt, comfortable, hold, warm, heavy, push.

If you hear following phrases, you are talking to a kinesthetic person: Boils down to; come to grips with; control yourself; cool/calm; get a handle on; get a load of this; get in touch with; hand in hand; hang in there; hold it; hold on; know-how; lay cards on a table; pain in the neck; pull some strings; slipped my mind; start from scratch

When influencing a kinesthetic team member, give them something to touch or send them something to feel, because they need to touch things. Keep them active by giving them printed materials to read or training materials to hold. Try to meet with them face-to-face if you can.

Questions to ask are: Do you feel my concern about this problem? What is your gut feeling about it?

To influence a sales team, your communication needs to be in the preferred representational system of your team members. If you are not sure what system to use at the beginning, create your message by using a mix of the EEE™ representational system ‘keywords.’

The advantage lies in hands of the manager who can establish rapport quickly and lead the sales team based on mutual trust. Remember that there is no failure, only feedback. Use what you’ve got and learn from it. That’s how you will improve your communication and management skills and become the manager you want to be.

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