Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Learning How to Ask Questions, Listen to Answers Plays a Major Part in `the Business Game'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Learning How to Ask Questions, Listen to Answers Plays a Major Part in `the Business Game'

Article excerpt

One of the nicest things I've ever had said to me was that I was coachable. Since it was a coach that said it, I guess it made sense.

I can't remember the exact circumstance, but it had to be a baseball coach. I don't recall any of my football coaches ever being so kind.

Trying to get to a point, I've tried over the years to coach or instruct several different subjects. Some I've had a little success with, others I've failed miserably.

Most noteworthy among my failures was my attempt to teach seven- year-old girls how to play softball. It was an ugly season.

Because I had played baseball all my life, I thought I could teach these girls to play and love the game as I did. Bad assumption.

What it took me a while to learn was the entry point for teaching baseball skills to these girls. They weren't concerned with strategy or statistics, they wanted to know which hand the glove went on and which base came after first base.

Eventually, we all got on the same page -- at least the kids and I did. Lots of the moms and dads never got it, probably still don't. But the kids and I figured out how to get along and how to begin developing the skills they needed to play softball and have fun.

The same feeling of accomplishment comes today when I get to participate in training sessions at work.

Aren't sports analogies wonderful?

We designate a significant amount of space each week in our newspaper for professional advice, much of it related to developing sales skills. I try and pay attention; it's always worth my time when I do.

This past week, in a meeting that involved several different departmental managers at The Journal Record, we began talking about talking with customers. It soon became an opportunity to discuss sales and marketing skills that are required or beneficial when you make contact with a customer.

The most amazing part of the meeting wasn't the information that was shared, but how hearing and then talking about the fundamentals of developing relationships with our customers reinforced the ideas that I had been taught in sales training sessions through the years.

Just like the skill sets you get when you learn to play baseball, the skill sets required for good customer relationships can be taught. The teaching requires a plan, just as the implementation requires a plan. …

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