Have you ever had a sales call turn out differently than you expected?
Several years ago I was on what I thought was one of the worst sales calls of my life. I walked into the prospects office, introduced myself and before I could sit down, he started to talk. I listened, nodded when I agreed and then listened more. One hour later, I asked my first question, “What is your biggest challenge going into the New Year?” He responded. Forty minutes later the meeting adjourned.
I felt terrible.
I never expressed my thoughts, concerns and ideas on what type of training would be appropriate for his sales team. One week later he called and said he loved our meeting and wanted to book the training for next month. WOW! Are you kidding me? And I thought I hadn’t done anything right in that meeting.
But, maybe I did.
In the book Power Questions by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, the authors say that in sales, “it’s not about you. If you do all the talking, you learn nothing about the person. If you do all the talking, you’re in the spotlight. If you do all the talking, you don’t empower the other person.” The authors continue by saying, “Your job is not to listen and respond. Your job is to gain information and create a vibrant dialogue. That’s an important distinction. Tell me more is the magic key to open up the next layer of the other person’s thinking and experiences.”
Tell me more is key.
It takes you deeper into the customer’s thinking and it helps you connect – which should be your primary goal. In my training programs, I teach that the customer needs to be doing at least 3/5’s of the talking. The person who talks the most has the least control. Asking questions puts you in control of the conversation because it gives you the opportunity to go to a deeper level and gain better insights into the customer’s situation. Understanding customer needs makes it possible for you to recommend the best solutions and paves the way for them to choose you and your solution.
What I thought was a terrible sales call happened to be an excellent one, because they did most of the talking. While I love to talk, so do customers. They expect us to give them the floor and for us to be attentive to what they are saying.
The problem with many sales people is that they get so excited to tell their story that they forget to listen. Unfortunately Fran Lebowitz has it right. She says, “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”
Too many sales people aren’t listening, they’re waiting for their turn to talk. They’re formulating what to say next. Yet, good follow on questions are a result of good listening because they lead the conversation deeper into the needs and issues.
Your prospects and customers know when you are listening. And they’ll reward you with more information and a deeper connection.
Remember that sales is all about relationships. We buy from people we like and trust. Your goal is not just to make a sale, it’s to build customers for life! One of the best ways to do that is to remember, it’s not about you!