Selling at the end of the day is about the dialogue. When you can combine the  science and art of selling you strengthen your dialogue. It is said that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.  The art of selling is the superb execution of the science –plus the 1%.    Every insight into the art of selling helps us get us closer to the 1%.

Alan Alda, known for his role as Hawkeye in M*A*S*H and many hit movies, provides such an insight based on techniques from his acting, directing, and writing. He put his talent to work in the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University to help scientists connect with and sell their ideas to potential contributors.

With his team of professors he developed courses  that teach  scientists dialogue skills such as distilling a message, giving on-camera interviews, and speaking on panel.

Progressing from good and great often happens in small increments and Alan Alda offered a take away for one of those small increments, one that is easily neglected:  observation. 

Like many salespeople and subject matter specialists,  scientists were spraying information in lecture mode without making contact. But with keen observation Mr. Alda feels it is possible for scientists to anticipate what a “buyer” will do and almost read his or her mind.  He sees observation as a way to connect, a critical step in persuasion.

There actually is science behind his focus on observation.  Research by kinesiologists who studied memory and observation confirmed what has been recognized for a long time, that women are better at remembering faces than men.   Why?  Because women scan back and forth as they look at a face, almost twice as often as men.  Observation with scanning increases understanding.  It increases memory.  And it increases the ability to connect based on that understanding.

“Observe your customer” sounds like common sense but in fact most people are busy thinking about what they will say or what they hear and fail to really observe.  Observation is enhanced with scanning because scanning generates a more visual picture in the mind and therefore increases visual information. Especially when you position an insight to introduce an idea to a customer by  combining scanning with probing you can get an even better read on how your customer is responding to your idea.  You are also strengthening your ability to connect, an important  part of building trust.

On a scale of one to five with five being excellent rate yourself: How well do you observe your customers? Do you scan?  Should you start?  How can you use scanning to help you read and connect with customers?  It seem to me observing more carefully and starting to scan is worth a second look.