Leadership is in fact a language. It is a dialogue and a way of relating to people that makes the difference between a mediocre leader and a powerful one. The greatest leaders possess an ability to connect with each person they manage, and it all starts with how they communicate. The Art of Enrollment is a powerful and compelling communication strategy that is utilized by the greatest leaders of our time. Let’s begin with a comprehensive definition of the word enrollment.
Enrollment: An authentic, powerful way of communicating that grabs people’s attention, stimulates interest, and empowers others to embrace, support, and believe in your position, idea, or philosophy. This motivates people to want to become part of your cause (a cause that may be bigger than you and them), take ownership of it, and then act in their best interest to create the possibility that you have introduced to them and/or have taken a stand for. (e.g., creating a certain corporate culture, selling or making a purchasing decision, trying something new that hasn’t been done before, or advocating for a positive, yet difficult change, etc.)
Like traditional management, traditional selling is dead. Unfortunately, many salespeople today are still using antiquated selling strategies. They no longer offer a competitive edge that separates them from every other company and promotes a healthy, winning relationship with their customers. Rather than change their approach, salespeople work harder and longer as they continually react to the changes in the marketplace, only to produce the same results as before.
Motivating employees is often exhausting and time-consuming work. Trying to get people to change or do things differently is even more of a challenge. Managers struggle to get their staff to become internally driven and self-motivated and perform at their potential. Businesses are closing their doors not due to a lack of effort but because they are still attempting to sell, manage, or run their businesses the old way, not the way it needs to be done today.
The next evolution in communication and in the way we coach our salespeople is using the art and discipline of enrollment. Think about some of the great leaders of our time: Dr. Martin Luther King, Golda Meir, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Andy Grove (chairman of Intel), and Oprah Winfrey (actress, talk show host, philanthropist). What do these leaders have in common? Each had a cause that ignited them to act from a global perspective. It was their innate ability that enabled them to enroll millions of people to follow, not them, but what was bigger than them; their cause. They used the art of enrollment to achieve historical, unprecedented results.
What has been initially perceived as an inherent, genetic ability is now a documented process that allows each of us to tap into this hidden power we all possess. The dormant desire to want to express more of who we are, what we want, how we feel, and what could be possible can now be achieved through enrollment. Each of us can do so in a natural, conversational way that honors our personal strengths, talents, goals, values, passion, and style of communicating while remaining open to cocreating greater possibilities.
Enrollment is a way to unleash each person’s purest form of open, honest, and authentic communication, using thought-provoking, curiosity-based questions that generate worthwhile results in any setting. When you uncover what you are passionate about and what you believe in and then take a strong, unwavering stand for whatever it may be, while respecting the mutual differences of one another, only then can you start to communicate and achieve more through the enrollment process: the highest form of communicating and self-expression.
Enrollment Is a Universal Phenomenon
When top salespeople want to be better at their jobs while maintaining their focus and desire to deliver rich value and serve their clients’ best interests, they stop selling and start enrolling. When an accountant, a coach, a doctor, a contractor, a financial planner, an attorney, a mortgage broker, or a salesperson wants to build their practice or their sales, they enroll. When universities want to attract more students, they enroll. When parents want their kids to change or do something, they enroll them. When managers hire someone, they enroll that person in the position.
To make this more relevant, think about it in terms of your position. When handling internal conflicts or sharing a policy change that affects every salesperson’s commission, managers must enroll people toward a positive, mutual mindshare. If you need your team to make radical changes in their behavior or in their thinking, you enroll them in that change. Here are some situations that would warrant an opportunity to use the art of enrollment:
- Needing to get salespeople to relocate.
- Developing an incentive program.
- Defusing hostility and finding a common ground.
- Making changes in company policy or procedure, such as a price increase, a change in commission or compensation, or a change in a person’s job function.
- Changing how salespeople will be developed and trained, such as taking part in a coaching program.
- Recruiting and hiring a new salesperson.
- Firing a team member and reducing collateral damage as well as toxic gossip.
- Requesting a change in people’s behavior or activity.
- Getting people to own a certain problem that they have been avoiding.
- Holding people more accountable around their performance goals as well as any administrative responsibilities.
- Requesting someone to take on a task or do something they may normally be reluctant to do.
In practically any scenario where it requires opening up someone’s thinking, modifying behavior, or taking action around something, the art of enrollment will become your primary communication strategy to bring about the changes you want without pushback, prodding, or resistance.
Creating the Possibility for Change
You may recall from an earlier chapter that coaching is the art of creating new possibilities. Enrollment allows you to communicate those possibilities in a way that people will be receptive to and will motivate them to change. At its core, enrollment is all about facilitating positive, long-term change.
Whether you’re selling a product, service, idea, or philosophy, no one likes to be sold. Everyone loves to feel as if they are making the decision themselves. If your salespeople perceive you as someone who is focused solely on helping them make their own decisions, they are going to want to be enrolled by you and will enjoy the process.
Take any situation or conversation in which there is a group of people who have conflicting interests, a conflict that needs resolution, an idea that needs to be communicated and embraced, a change initiative that needs to be launched, or a mutual goal that needs to be attained. Whether each person possesses a separate agenda or information that needs to be communicated, has a misunderstanding of each other’s goals, or has no business talking to each other in the first place, mastering the Art of Enrollment will unlock the door to full self-expression for all. It will enable you to communicate more powerfully, more authentically, and more confidently with everyone.
The Six Steps of an Enrollment Conversation
Even though there is a systematic process of enrollment that you can follow, keep in mind that this is a guide and does have some flexibility. Therefore, depending on the flow of each conversation, you may tailor these steps so they fit each situation.
Get connected: Share a story, either about yourself or someone else who might have been in a similar situation. This cultivates the relationship, creates a safe atmosphere to share more, and makes the other person more comfortable opening up to you.
State the possibility: Here’s where you share a general possibility the other person can realize. Typically, this is a broad, compelling statement of a desired outcome. Start off with a word or phrase that encourages the other person to suspend any doubts or limit thinking when introducing what it is you want for this person or for the company as a whole. Here are some examples of words and phrases you can use: “Imagine,” “Think about,” “Picture,” “Envision,” “Consider,” “What would it mean to you if … ?,” “What would be possible if … ?,” “Wouldn’t it be great if … ?,” or “What if ?” One way of stating a possibility could sound like this: “Wouldn’t it be great if we all came to work every day feeling motivated, fulfilled, and satisfied in our jobs? That’s what I want to create for you.”
Ask permission to have a conversation: Follow up step 2 with a question that will give you permission to have this conversation. This question confirms that it is a good time for this discussion: what it is you want as well as whether the person is open to hearing it. Here’s what that question could sound like: “Are you open to discussing how we can achieve/create this for you?” or “Is now a good time for you to discuss this?”
Take a stand: Whereas step 2 is a broad, compelling statement of a desired outcome, here’s where you identify the specific proposition of the possibility that you want to create for that person. State your purpose clearly and concisely by using a wanting for statement. Here is one way to say it: “What I want for you is to come to work with a smile on your face, knowing that every day you’re making a difference, delivering value, and enjoying the financial reward of your efforts.”
Have the conversation: Here’s where you deliver the idea or request you want them to hear. The conversation may include a new concept or philosophy that you want them to buy into, a request to do or change something, or an invitation that may be more optional than mandatory.
Get complete: This final step of the enrollment process is to establish the next course of action, gauging the person’s feelings or response and determining a completion time. What are the next steps? How did this person respond to your ideas? How open was he? Here are some questions you could ask: “How do you see handling this?” “How are you going to handle this?” “In order to complete this, what steps are you going to take that make sense to you?” “How have you handled something like this before?” “What’s your strategy going to be/look like?” “When do you think you can have this back to me?” “Is there anything that would get in the way of completing this by next Wednesday?” “How is this sitting with you?” “What concerns do you have?” “What are you most excited about?” “What can I do specifically to support you around this?” “How should we determine evidence of positive change?” “What criteria do you suggest we use?” This is the time to confirm the person’s level of buy-in or the clarity of your conversation. This is also the opportunity for you and the person or people you are enrolling to develop a strategy and deadline or finalize any steps to produce the result you seek to achieve.
From the Sidelines
To ensure that your enrollment efforts lead to the positive, worthwhile changes you seek, here are some final tips to keep in mind when using these six steps of enrollment.
- Surrender your agenda. When enrolling someone, there is no attachment to the outcome.
- It’s never about you but about a greater goal or good. The benefit that results from what it is you want to enroll them in will either be specific to that person, your team, or your company as a whole, or for the greater good of society.
- Sharing and being vulnerable (without putting yourself in harm’s way) is the purest form of self-expression.
- Focus more on the pleasure, vision, and dreams you want to create rather than the consequence of not doing so.
- Whether you are enrolling and engaging a group or just one person, you have the power to continually create new and greater possibilities by harnessing your creativity.
- Be sensitive to people’s attitude and state of mind when you are attempting to enroll them. That is, are they receptive and open to hearing your message in that moment or did they just find out that they might be losing one of their largest clients? Their mood and mindset will affect the results of your efforts.
Keith Rosen is an executive sales coach, speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions. He was named one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country by Inc. magazine and Fast Company. He can be contacted at 516-771-1444, email@example.com, or his Web site.