If one has to pin the most important skill that separates the top 1% in sales from the remaining then it is “listening”.
To those who have just started their career in modern selling, this may be difficult to understand.
What comes to our minds when we think of a salesperson?
A talker. A con man. A boastful person. That pushy guy everyone wants to avoid. The one who is trying to be smart and trying to shove something down our throat.
Why do salespeople create a negative image about themselves?
Let us introspect.
When we think of us selling something, we feel the need to talk eloquently. Drive the prospect towards what you want to sell. The ones we try to sell are prospects to us and we need to “close” them.
Get the drift? Can you feel what is missing?
Can that prospect be thought of as a human being? Are you selling something to him (which he may not need or interested in)? Or are you helping him to buy (something which he strongly desires)?
The misalignment is in the very perspectives with which we look at selling and the buyer himself.
Also Check–When you interrupt, what does your customer think?
What is the vital missing link that can create the alignment? It is – Listening.
All of us love being listened to. The story which we love the most is “our”story. When someone is eager to listen to it, he becomes dear to us. So why not be that person who is interested first and who will then becomes interesting to the buyer?
When you listen to the prospect, you gain his attention and his trust. You convey to him that it is about him and not about you. He is not one more number for you. He matters. His story matters. He opens up, gives you all the cards you need to create value for him, and finally may choose you over others to buy from.
So what are the 10 simple tips that can boost your listening skills & give you an edge over your competition in sales?
Josh Braun has shared the following insightful tips for you to build the skill of listening –
- In his words “Stop one-upping people“. If someone tells you how he faced a situation in his life, avoid sharing your experience which may be a tad more intense.
- Try to keep the “30 seconds” rule while you speak. Once you speak for 30 seconds, pass the ball in the customer’s court.
- Focus on what the customer is saying, rather than what you want to say. Don’t let that fear of you missing your point, which you think is critical for persuasion. Trust yourself, back yourself with the belief that you will know what to say when the time comes.
- Embrace the virtue of the rainmakers in selling – Curiosity! It is about them and their story. The more you know it, the better positioned you are to create value for your customer.
- Mirror the prospect. Use the last few words from the prospects and then add “so?” or “then?” or “tell me more”.
- When you feel what the prospect is feeling, show it back to them. If the prospect is excited while recounting a particular incident, you may say “That certainly made you energized!”.
- As Tim Ferris suggests, count 4 seconds after the other person has finished his sentence, before you speak up. It can be uncomfortable. But it empowers you and the other person to think more while you speak. Makes the conversation more meaningful.
- Remember, you are listening to understand, not to respond.
- Face the customer and keep an open posture. Body language is critical in letting your prospect know that you are interested in them. Do you remember how it felt when you were talking about something important and the other person was listening with his head in some other direction?
- And finally, remember that you are simply helping the prospect in “his” buying process to reach “his” vision. In a way, you are with him in that journey as his trusted buddy! You are not selling “to” him.
Each sales conversation is unique in its own way. What has worked for you in listening better to your prospects?