Many business owners these days complain of not being heard and not being listened to.
The main culprits causing this are us….sales people. We love to talk and assume our customers and potential customers love to listen to our “pearls of wisdom”
Speaking when it’s not needed
Over the years I’ve watched numerous sales people in live sales calls and in role play situations. Most do the same thing: speak when it’s not needed, not wanted and not necessary. It’s a common trait in salespeople who, most times, mean well.
After all the client needs the information; objections have to be dealt with, features and benefits must be outlined, possible questions pre-empted etc etc.
Frustration levels rise
While all of this is going on the buyer becomes frustrated because their opinion is not sought or is perhaps simply ignored. In many cases they become overwhelmed by all of the information being thrown at them.
Bottom line? No connection, no rapport, no sale.
Here are three ideas to help you speak less and listen more.
1. Pause before you respond.
Take a short pause after the customer has spoken before you reply. It might seem a long time however those 2-3 seconds often give them the opportunity to add more to what they have already said as they fill in the “gap”.
Additionally the pause demonstrates that you are listening or processing the information
2. Acknowledge with a nod, ask for more.
Clients are so used to being interrupted they rarely tell you the whole story – they answer questions or provide some information and then wait expectedly for you to jump in.
Consider using a head nod, with an “I understand”. Then encourage them to provide more with a question such as “and then what happened” or “could you please explain a little more about that?”
These questions increase the likelihood of a genuine business conversation occurring.
3. Don’t interrupt or talk over your client.
Obvious I know, however it happens more times than you think.
Apart from being rude it prevents the businessperson finishing a sentence or thought. In some cases this could be the difference between making a sale or being considered one of the many “reps” who are only interested in themselves.
Resist the temptation to barge into the conversation you just never know what they will say next…and it might be a vital piece of intelligence.
This quote from Peter Drucker summarises the subject very nicely. “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said”
And in selling you can take that to the bank!
About the author
Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.
He can be contacted at [email protected]