Are You A Good Listener?
In his excellent book “Persuasion – The Art Of Influencing People”, James Borg asserts that the most important skill a salesperson needs to persuade people is the ability to LISTEN.
Imagine that! How on earth can you talk someone round to your way of thinking by being a good listener – that can’t be right surely? People with ‘the gift of the gab’ make good sales people don’t they? Er, no actually! Ask yourself this – when was the last time you warmed to someone who just talked at you and wouldn’t let you get a word in edgeways?
Precisely! We like people who allow us to talk about us – our issues, our concerns and what’s important. But there’s more to it than this – the dramatic difference between listening to just hearing.
As Bryant H McGill has it, “One of the most sincere forms of respect for someone is to actually listen to what they have to say.” When you call someone to talk about your business you must show the utmost respect. If they’re busy then excuse yourself and call back another time. As recent as ten years ago this would have been seen as most sales trainers as utter madness. “Don’t ask for someone’s time”, a sales trainer barked at me many years ago, “take it!”
Not listening is the fastest way to lose a prospect before you get even close to introducing yourself or your company.Listening is an art you should practice every day because effective listening will definitely pay dividends again and again.
A good listener hears the real message and not the smoke screen. When ‘selling’ (I use speech marks because I believe we’re all selling all the time without realising it, as Daniel Pink says, “We’re all salesmen now”) we often get objections, price being one of the most common. Price is never really an objection on it’s own. If price is offered as an objection what we’re probably getting is “You haven’t convinced me yet that your product/service is of any real value to me.”
Listening properly will help take all objections into proper consideration and assimilate what we’re really hearing. Only then can we deal effectively with what we’re hearing because we now fully understand the real objection. This isn’t anything new by the way, it’s common knowledge amongst the more enlightened but it’s woefully missed by a great many ‘sales’ people who really should know better.
For more understanding of this and several closely related topics I would highly recommend any books penned by Messrs Pink or Borg as they have a highly intuitive approach to this subject and are masters in this field.