Sales Listening

and Sales Questioning


The best way to make sales is by applying sales questioning and listening to understand what the customer wants.

Henry Ford knew this when he said,
"If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as from you own."

In the first three issues of my newsletter I’ve talked about follow up and the language we use, maybe it’s time we looked at the other side of the sales partnership ? 

The client.




In my early days in sales I had an astute boss and mentor. 

He always reminded the sales team that "you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio". 
(i.e listen twice as much as you talk)

Listening is THE most important aspect of sales. 
The more you can understand about your prospect the more likely you’ll make the sale. 
I don’t just mean listening to the words your prospect says but also to the tone of voice they use and their reactions 
(if you are face-to-face).

Now this shouldn’t be rocket science.
It’s obvious, isn’t it ? 
Yet I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched a senior person from a company waxing poetically about the virtues of his company or his new product while the customer sat glassy eyed and totally disinterested.

The distinction here is to be interested in your prospect’s business rather than trying to interest them in your product. 




After all it was Dale Carnegie who said,
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you." 




The old image of the salesperson is the flashy, quick talker.
I think that salespeople are (for the most part) not like that anymore.

However, many salespeople spend a lot of time putting together a presentation that will be interesting to their prospects where they would often be better served just cultivating an attitude of curiosity about their prospects business, learning how to ask questions effectively and knowing their own product or service well enough to recognise when it could solve a problem that the prospect is facing.

When you listen to your prospect you hear their wants and if you sound interested and curious you may find out a lot of detail about how their business works.

If you ask the right questions and listen carefully you may also be able to find out your prospects pain (what keeps them awake at night) and what they perceive as being important.

Then, from that point you may be able to determine what they need (as distinct from want) and frame your offer based upon what they think is important.

Sound confusing ? 




Let’s clarify what I’m saying with a simple example.

A prospect comes into hardware store to buy an electric drill.
The salesperson from that department is interested in drills and proceeds to advise the customer about the pros and cons of each of the brands available.
The customer chooses a brand of drill and buys it. 
Has the salesperson done their best ? 
The sale is made ?

I would argue that the salesperson should have done more.

Personally, I would ask why the customer wanted the drill.
It may just be to replace an old drill that has broken. 
In which case it would be fine to proceed down the path that the salesperson took.

What if the customer said he was making a certain piece of furniture and he thought an electric drill would speed up the process ? 
He was busy and couldn’t afford to spend much time on the project. 
You may then enquire more about the piece of furniture and discover you have exactly what he was looking for already in the store, assembled. 
You sell a $200 piece of furniture rather than a $50 drill. 
The customer’s time is saved. 
The customer would be ecstatic.




Do you know the origins of the word "Sales" ?
It comes from the Norwegian word " Selje" ,
which translates literally " TO SERVE ".

I believe that the sale of the furniture served the customer better than the sale of the drill. 
And you know what ? 
The only way to find out is to be interested in what your prospect is doing.
Interested enough to ask. 
And to keep asking and listening until you understand. 
Only then can you be sure you are truly serving your client.

Zig Ziglar has said, 
"Your attitude determines your altitude" 
and I believe if you want to climb the heights in the sales game you need to develop an attitude of curiosity about your clients needs so that you can serve them better.

Here's to YourSalesSuccess.


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