Since most home party plan leaders are women, it’s in our nature to also be problem solvers. When someone on our team comes to us for help, we feel it’s our duty to help them by telling them how to solve their problems. The thing I’ve noticed in my years, first as a leader and then as a business coach, is this approach seldom works, and it’s beyond frustrating to give someone a solution, only to have them not take action on it.
As a coach, I know that being curious and truly listening to my clients is the key to supporting them in moving forward in our sessions. When you ask powerful questions instead of assuming you have the answers and giving advice, you empower those on your team to make their own breakthroughs and come up with their own answers.
That’s key in our industry, because it’s typical for us as direct sales leaders to want to “fix” all the problems of those in our down-line. I’m sure this conversation sounds familiar to you:
Representative: “I’m not getting bookings.”
Leader: “O.K., here’s what I want you to do. Get on the phone this week and get some bookings.”
How often does that representative actually follow through and follow that advice? Rarely. Want to know why? They aren’t committed to the action because it’s not their action – it’s yours as the leader!
Advice seldom works because people generally defend their weakness when given advice and inform you about why “that might work for you but will never work for me.” I call it arguing for your limitations.
Next time you’re working someone through a problem, consider asking them instead of telling them, like this:
Representative: “I can’t get bookings.”
Leader: “What might you do to get bookings?”
Representative: “I don’t know.” (Note: this is an automatic, knee jerk response from most people when asked to solve a problem on their own. If you have children, you especially know what I’m talking about. The best response I’ve found is…)
Leader: “Just suppose you DID know? What might the answer be?”
Representative: “Well, I guess I could get on the phone and make a few phone calls.”
Leader: “Great idea! Who might you call, what might you say?” (etc.)
You get the idea. The difference with this conversation is the “solution” is the representative’s idea so they’re much more likely to follow through, especially if you help them pinpoint who to call and what to say! Don’t give up if they don’t come up with an idea right away. Keep asking “just suppose you did know” and be patient. Eventually, they’ll come up with an answer on their own.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret…nine times out of ten, the answer they come up with is exactly what you would have told them to do in the first place. The difference is, it’s their idea so they’re much more committed to it! Give this tool a go the next time you’re faced with someone else’s problem. Resist the urge to solve and get curious!
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Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.