“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
The average sales person is normally a very good talker, however their listening skills are poor. If you want to be a great sales person then you have to enhance your listening skills. People don’t like to be sold, but they will buy if they believe the product will benefit them. So a good listener is able to discover what the prospect wants by listening and then presenting a solution that is acceptable.
If doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that people don’t care what you sell, but care very much about how you make them feel. The only way for you to make that connection is to be responsive to what the potential customer is saying. Let them talk. Listen. You’re there to learn and gather information.
Although we’ve all learned to keep our mouths shut when another person is talking, that’s passive listening. We tend to do that selectively. We hear words and phrases but are minds are not often in the here and now. Maybe we’re wondering when they’ll stop talking so we can pitch. Maybe our thoughts are straying to where we’re going to dine later, or all the callbacks we need to make. We tune out.
Active listening keeps us in the present. We’re focused and intent on what the prospect is saying, but more importantly, it allows us to fine tune the conversation to demonstrate how our product resolves their problem. Whether our business comes from one industry or in a variety of industries, every company has its own flavor. It may be a special way of doing something. Maybe they need added functionality or less frills. Maybe they need a solution that fills a special niche or even their company vision. It doesn’t matter. One size solutions never fit all, and the same sales pitch seldom fits anyone.
Passive listening doesn’t allow us to demonstrate unique solutions. When we practice active listening, we become responsive. ‘I understand. Here’s what we did to help So-and-So who had a similar problem.’ Remember, anyone can benefit by telling a story about how they helped someone. Use case studies. Find your differentiator. Why are you the better choice over your competitor? Tell them what you can do to help them.
Being a good listener creates meaning and makes you valuable. It establishes a relationship that leads to trust, which in turn leads to sales. You can’t go into a store and buy a relationship. But you can build a relationship and earn trust, which are essential to sales. You can’t afford to spend a half hour with 10 prospects today and walk away empty. Spend an hour with 5 and listen well to their stories. The sale will happen.