(This article is the 5th in a series of articles on selling, the aim of which is to help trainers discover how to sell without feeling like a used car salesman)
In my previous article I started discussing the (possibly surprising) traits of a great salesperson; the first one being an attitude of abundance, a belief that you don’t’ live and die with every deal. The second trait of great salespeople is that they are great listeners. This may seem surprising, given that most people’s view of salespeople is that they are smooth talkers. While it’s true that a salesperson needs to be able to communicate effectively, keen listening skills are actually more valuable…especially if you believe in the model of sales that I believe in.
If you think about sales as the process of matching your value to the needs of customers, then the first thing you should be doing when you encounter a prospect is find out their needs. Why would you start by spewing out your sales pitch before you even know what the customer is looking for and why they’re looking for it? Great salespeople are great listeners; they want to understand how the customer thinks, what they want, what they need, etc…They ask questions and they LISTEN intently to the answers. This leads them to developing a deep understanding of who they’re dealing with. Note, I am not referring to a series of questions in some slick sales technique that is aimed at getting to a close, and listening intently does not mean listening for opportunities to pounce.
When you listen properly, with the right intention (I.E. – an attitude of abundance) the client opens up and you develop trust. People buy from you when they like you and trust you, and nothing builds trust more than truly listening to someone. That means you are paying attention, you’re asking follow-up questions and you’re repeating back what the other person is saying to make sure you understood. People who listen well, who do so in the spirit of truly understanding are able to create tremendous trust with their clients, more so than the slick talkers.
If you have read the previous articles in this series you should notice that everything ties together. Establishing your mission and determining your value allows you to determine who your best prospective clients are. Knowing that not all customers are the right customers for you allows you to develop the attitude of abundance. Since you’re no longer desperate trying to close every deal and instead trying to find the right matches, you naturally become a better listener.
Listening is no less an art than talking, and once again an example of how you don’t need to have an arsenal of hard tactics to be great at selling. I hope it’s becoming clearer with every article that selling does not have to be the negative thing you thought it was.