It can be tempting, even easy, to tune out in the middle of a sales call. After all, you know why you are there. You have a product to sell. Presumably, the person you’re meeting with has a need that product can meet. So all of this talk, to a sales person, can sometimes feel unnecessary. But it’d be rude to interrupt someone, especially if you want the sale, so you consider tuning out. Don’t. Instead, spend time truly listening.
Stop selling products. Start solving problems.
When a potential client is talking to you, they are laying out their issues. They are telling you, “Here’s the situation I’m in. Here’s the problem I need solved.” What they are looking for from you is something more than a sales pitch. They want you to interact with them, to ask questions and show that you were listening to what they were saying.
Mike Myatt writes on Forbes.com that customers today have become hip to nearly every kind of sales technique. They can see when you are trying to pitch them a product, from your open to your close. What many salespeople are taught is simply not effective anymore. Sales now requires a new approach.
“Engage me,” Myatt writes, “communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me – it won’t work.”
So, how do you do all those things Myatt suggests? It starts with listening and listening well.
Humans have the ability to process words about 3 times as fast as we can speak them, roughly 450 words a minute. That means that the 150 words per minute the average speaker speaks at isn’t fully engaging the typical listener’s brain. That leaves the listener with a choice. Either use that unused capacity to let the mind wander, or let it be used to focus on the speaker. Andrew Nemiccolo calls this engaged listening, and he gives an example of what that looks like over on LinkedIn.
“Check in,” he writes. “Allow yourself to feel what the speaker is saying now. Try to anticipate where the speaker is going next. Stay active by asking mental and verbal clarifying questions. Mental: ‘What point is she trying to make?’ ‘How does this fit into the context of what I know about this subject?’ Verbal: ‘Tell me more.’ ‘Why do you think it happened that way?’ ”
Resist the temptation, he says, to move the conversation forward by helping the speaker get to the end of his or her story.
Listen with sincerity
Too many interruptions, trying too hard to fast forward the conversation, and you’ll come across as the typical salesperson. You have one thing on your mind — make the sale.
That’s why it’s so important, as Sharon Michaels writes also at Forbes, that you have to be sincere in your approach. You have to genuinely listen to the customer then genuinely respond, not with a sales pitch, but with a solution.
“A sales person with an agenda tends to push too hard and often doesn’t listen well. Leave your agenda at home. Sincerely focus on your customer and how your product can best serve their hopes, dreams and goals. Zig Ziglar said it best, ‘You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.’ ”