RANDYGRAM – LISTENING
Among the key skills that good salespeople acquire and hone is the ability to listen. While it is important to prepare for any sales call by determining what we will say and offer, it is just as imperative that you carefully take the time to listen to the other party. There will be clues as to their priorities, their preferences and the things they dislike. “Shhhh”, did someone just mention a new business opportunity? Don’t be in such a rush to deliver your message that you don’t take the time to hear and absorb.
You will certainly have two or three key points you want to make in your presentation. And, you hopefully have anticipated possible objections and have thought carefully about how you might respond to the ones most likely to come up. But how do you prepare to listen? Let me suggest several tips.
First, let your client or prospect speak. And when they do, let them finish their thought or question. Occasionally pause and let the other person or someone from the group you are meeting with fill the void. They may say something interesting or unexpected.
Second, after you have made a point say: “What do you think?” and invite them to chime in. You may find that they are ready to make a decision and you would be “overselling” if you continued as you had prepared.
Third, at some point during your meeting say something like: “So what’s going on?” or “Anything new with you?”. You may find they have some news or just an anecdote they were waiting for the right moment to recount. And even if they don’t have much to add you can use their lack of response as a barometer for their mood. Are they glad to see you or does it seem likely your visit is an interruption?
Finally, use the non-verbal cues they provide, and your prior experience, to help you adjust your agenda. Are they jovial or quiet? Maybe it is clear that this visit should be brief or perhaps they have been in a long meeting and would rather hear your pitch over coffee or lunch. Even if they turn you down, they will likely appreciate the offer.
How well do you listen? Maybe not as well as you think. Make intentional listening part of your next agenda.
Good Luck and Good Listening.