By, Andrea Pirrotti
“Andrea, my parents always told me, you can’t learn if you’re flapping your lips”, shared my seat mate on a flight to Miami. This guy was a scholar, CEO of a financial services co., and an all-around interesting person. To be clear, he wasn’t telling me to stop talking (I don’t think he was anyway), he was sharing his philosophy, one he feels people should but don’t subscribe to. At that moment, I had a flashback to my first job out of College at GramaVision Records where the owner told me underneath his breath to shut up while I was in the middle of a negotiation. He later let me know that if I had stopped talking I would have heard that I had already won the prospect over. He knew, because he was listening.
Ah the art of listening. I can take this thread down a few different paths: kids, politics (don’t get me started), personal relationships, etc… But, since my writings are based around helping readers to make more money, I’m will focus on listening and the sales cycle.
Have you ever received a call from a telemarketer where you literally feel like they are vomiting words through the phone in their dying attempt to make a connection? It’s as though they are getting paid by the number of words rather than fulfilling a need and making a sale.
You may laugh but I have been the victim of this type of salesmanship in my everyday life – from the nail salon to high-end product sales. Have you? Or, have you ever found yourself or your team members selling this way? I have.
The beautiful thing about listening is that most people love to talk – about themselves. So, we’re off to a good start. You’re committed to listening and the folks you are buying from you are ready to start talking. Cool! But that’s just the beginning. Guiding that conversation is key otherwise the prospect will ramble and you’ll listen and listen and listen but never identify a pain point. No pain point, no solution, no sale.
So, listening is important but not enough. Here are a few tips to guide the dialogue to get what you need when you listen – and deliver to the prospect.
- Research prior to the meeting (if possible). Understand the person on a business and personal / human level. Look the person up via social media. Use business-oriented sites like LinkedIn and check out Facebook and Twitter. Understanding where the person works, went to school, and what connections he/she has is important. Just as important is understanding interest, the tone of their posts (funny, casual, stoic, reserved), and how they engage (if at all). Understanding the personal side insight into how you might adapt your style to create a comfortable undertone for your conversation.
- Create a framework for your conversation. Start with the end in mind (what information do you need to identify and fulfill the pain point) and then create questions to get you to that end.
- At meeting time:
- Explain who you are and how you are uniquely positioned to help them and provide a solution. Be brief. Remember you are there to listen!
- Establish an agenda: What you will cover and how long it will take to cover the topics. Reinforce how your agenda will benefit him/her. And then ask something like, “How does that sound”, to get buy in.
- Start with a question that makes a human connection and then increase the complexity of the questions as you continue your dialogue. All along the way, very briefly explain how answering the question will benefit him/her. Listen.
- When you ask questions, lean back as though you are having a conversation with a friend, listen and acknowledge the answer. The inclination of many sales people is to provide a solution right then and there as each question is answered. Don’t do that. Your role is to guide the dialogue and listen. Don’t fear, when it’s all done, you’ll provide a holistic, strategic solution not a tactical hit.
- When you are read to provide your strategic solution recap by letting the person know you listened by acknowledge what the person said. Then let the prospect know that your proposed solution is based on what you heard he/her needs are. As you deliver the solution, get buy in and validation along the way. This will help you to determine whether you heard correctly, and whether your solution is resonating with the buyer. Connecting along the way will also help you to listen and adapt your solution live time.
Listening is such an important skill in life. In sales, crafting and guiding the dialogue so that your ability to listen benefits the prospect and enables you to provide a solution is that extra step that will help you to enhance your performance.
Need help with sales! Contact us. We’ll work with you as you need from training your team to acting as your outsourced sales team.
By, Andrea Pirrotti