What’s the all?important, number-one skill in the profession of selling?
Listening. Nobody’s ever listened themselves out of a sale, right? On the other hand, a lot of us, every day, talk ourselves right out of a sale. Remember this: Your customers don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
And you can’t let them know how much you care until you really start listening. When you’re doing all the talking, the only thing you’re learning is what you already know.
Your customers have the answers. Only they know:
- what their pains are
- what their fears are
- what their goals are
And they know those things better than you do, so stop assuming, talking and worrying about what you want to say, and start listening to what they need to say and what you need to hear.
You don’t need to remind yourself of what you think. You need to find out what the other person thinks. You’ve got to listen your prospect into buying, listen your customer out of their problems.
We often miss opportunities because we’re broadcasting when we need to be listening. What if you were just a bit more aware of the things your customers need from you? What if you had a little more understanding of their situation?
When you have that, you’re much more qualified to present the solutions they need.
Here’s a book excerpt to consider. And it’s called “Listen.”
“When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I’ve asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you’re trampling on my feelings. When I ask you to listen to me and you feel that you have to do something to solve my problem, you failed me, strange as that may seem. Listen. All I ask is that you listen. Not talk, not do. Just hear me. Advice is cheap. 25 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper, and I can do that by myself.
“And I’m not helpless. Maybe I’m discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. When you something for me that I can and I need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and my weakness. But when you accept as a single fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, that I can quit trying to convince you and I can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling. And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
“Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them. Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes for some people, because God is mute and he doesn’t give advice. He doesn’t try to fix things. He just listens and he lets us work it out for ourselves. So, please, listen and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, then I’ll listen to you.”
That’s by John Gray, who wrote “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.” And how does this apply to sales? Because sales is about human relationships.
Is any aspect of selling more important than the relationship you have with your customer? You are growing that relationship. It starts with your ears, and continues with your eyes before it ever gets to what you say out of your mouth.
Listening well is an art, and that’s what we’ll be exploring in the next several posts.