A communication tip that’s bound to help

Andy Bounds makes good sense. As a former British Sales Trainer of the Year and in demand all over the world as a presenter of sales and communication workshops, he maintains that, ‘It’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people do differently after you’ve said it.’ This month, one of his Tuesday Tips highlighted that message.

According to Bounds, the whole point of communication is to cause something to happen. Sure, there are conversations where we’re just shooting the breeze, but when it comes to business communications, often what we’re trying to get across is a call to action. But Bounds’ point is this: that oh-so-important ‘call to action‘ is often missing. We may think we’ve inspired our audience to do something through our brilliant presentation on half-yearly sales figures, but have we really?

Bounds claims that too often one of two things happens:

1. There is simply no call to action. The presenter ends with a lukewarm ‘thank you’ or a vague call for questions.


2. Despite thinking they’ve made a call for action, what the presenter has really done is ask for, as Bounds puts it, a ‘lovely idea’.

He illustrates his point with the example of the Sales Manager firmly declaring, ‘My call to action is for you to get out there and get more referrals’. Bounds says this qualifies as nothing more than a lovely idea because it’s missing the most vital part: what the first step is.

He takes the referral example further. The first step would be to ‘Print off a customer list, identify your best customer, call them up and ask them for a referral.’ Now, that’s a call to action.

In other words, if you’re wondering why your team isn’t hitting their sales targets or they lack focus, perhaps it’s because they each have a different understanding of the best way to ‘get more referrals’ or lack even an idea of how to begin.

Bounds goes on to say that he calls this kind of thinking his ‘Buy Bread Test’. If he has just two things to do – buy bread and sort out his finances – he’ll inevitably go for buying bread first because it’s easy and his direction is clear. ‘Sort out finances’ on the other hand is way too general as a goal and besides, where would he start? It’s simply human nature to elect to do that task which is very specific in its aims first.

So, when next you’re giving a presentation or trying to inspire the troops, you need to make sure your own call to action is Waterford crystal clear. Read over what you’re going to say and ask yourself, ‘Will it pass the Buy Bread Test?’ Finishing with the words, ‘Your first step is…’ is bound to help.

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