As sales professionals we always have something to say. There’s always one more important point that’s worth sharing. Being articulate, sometimes even eloquent can be extremely helpful. The trouble is, thinking about the script, or how best to describe a key feature is hurting your performance.
The odds are very good that while thinking about your next eloquent moment, you’re actually thinking yourself right out of a sale. Asking a thoughtful open ended question is good. Your prospect opens up; they can get on a roll and share great insights to their challenges.
The trouble is you’re really not listening; their talking is really just interrupting what you want to tell them next. After all, it’s your sales script not theirs. Your script and all of your rehearsal is in all likelihood a detriment to your success.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
– Stephen R. Covey
We’re certainly not advocating that homework is a waste of time. You absolutely need to know your products features and benefits. Knowing your competition inside and out is invaluable; having the answer to every imaginable objection will often be the difference between winning and losing. Just because you do know it all, doesn’t mean you have an unfettered license to share it all with every client and prospect. Your clients and prospects simply care about themselves. Learn to listen; learning by listening will help you help your clients make more money, save more money or just feel like a hero.
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the definition of listening is “to consider with thoughtful attention.” Listening is a cognitive response to what has been heard. Listening requires effort, discipline, and rigor. The sales business is about building positive winning relationships. When you’re focused and listening attentively the odds are increasing that you’ll align the right solution to the client problem. Being perceived as a problem solver is more valuable than being seen as that person simply selling something. More importantly, great listening skills also highlight your qualities as someone having empathy, and understanding.
Here are some qualities of an effective listener:
You’re an active listener
You really appreciate the other persons words and feelings
You know how to put yourself in their seat
You can share feedback, and acknowledge what you think the speaker means
You can be an effective listener.
Consider putting a few of these ideas into practice:
1. Look for topics or interests in common
2. Consider what is said, not how it’s said
3. Don’t interrupt, add your comments where they’re finished speaking
4. Be attuned for ideas and themes
5. Concentrate on the speaker; ignore your inner voice
6. Don’t get distracted
7. Always keep an open mind
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
- Winston Churchill