Explaining is Not Enough

by Kenny Pratt

What you say to your employees matters.   Just not as much as you want it to.

When it comes to helping your on-site staff sell storage effectively, it’s not what you say to them that brings in more renters.  Its what your on-site people do that matters.

As the boss, sometimes I get deluded by thinking that just because I make a plan and ask people to do something, the thing should get done on my time schedule and to my standard of quality.   This, of course, is absurd.

Let me illustrate with one of the most eloquent commentaries on leadership by Stephen Vincent Benet:

“If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where, creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares.
They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them…
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way
The General loses his stars and the block–men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.”

As a supervisor or owner you contribute by making your plans do-able. By making your plans more do-able I mean making the job easier, or providing the right tools, or providing the right training, or by building social structures that encourage the right behaviors.

Part of making selling storage do-able is setting clear expectations.

Men are “used to just being men”,  not the “block parts”  you want them to be.  If they don’t yet have the ability to do what you have asked them to do, they won’t do it.

Even if you explain it really well.

If you are not the one answering the phone, but instead rely on other people’s efforts; you need to ask yourself whether there is something that you can do to help your team do the right things.  Do they need more training or education than you have the time or know-how to deliver? How can you make it easy to practice specific key behaviors such as asking effective discovery questions to phone prospects or specifically inviting prospects to come to the store to rent storage space?   How can you create a culture where co-workers encourage excellent selling skills?

Ask for what you want, then make it as easy as possible for them to give it to you.

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