I was told a long time ago we were given two ears and one mouth for a simple reason….speak less and listen more! Listening is one of the most basic skills needed to be a great sales executive (and that is many times overlooked). It is this skill that allows sales executives to truly understand a clients pains, visions, goals and barriers. It is this skill that also allows a sales executive to connect with their client and understand their dynamics and truly create a solution to their pain or a path to reach their goals.
Below are some basics to being a good listener:
- Probe, don’t interrogate
- Don’t jump to conclusions
- Lead, don’t solution
- Interpret internally and wait patiently for a window to reiterate what was heard and ask for confirmation
- Focus on what and how is being said relative to context and tone
- Never interrupt
- Pay attention not just to the words, but to body language
- Listen for what is NOT said
- Turn your phone off and remove distractions
While this may seem very basic, that is because it is. But too many times in client meetings, I see sales people cut customers off before they are done sharing their vision or business issues. Too many times sales people are not focusing on what their client is explaining, instead they are already “solutioning” or “sizing” their recommendations.
Try it yourself in your next meeting. If you find yourself ready to interrupt your client or make a recommendation, ask if they are finished first or count how often you find yourself ready to cut in. It might surprise you how differently the meeting goes with a patient listener.
For some great sales training books, check out:
We are in a new age of technology breakthroughs, one where artificial intelligence or cognitive solutions are upon us and getting a lot of hype. One thing I have found over the last year while being involved in these cutting edge technologies, the most important thing during the sale is the business value. This has not changed in dozens of years. If there is no business value, why would the organization make an investment in the first place?
The fact that technologies are advancing and becoming more capable of providing greater insight, analyse more data, analyse new data (like unstructured) and “learn”; this just improves the business case. Now, these greater capabilities enable new visions. This is where the opportunity for selling value comes in. A truly talented sales person asks “what if” and sets the vision. The truly talented sales person helps the client create their ideal world.
It is this vision setting step that is being forgotten today by some. Too many sellers I come across are selling technology or products. They see everything as a nail for their hammer. The truly gifted seller helps to create vision empowered by their technology or products.
The issue is not only with sales people. Clients have forgotten to ask the question “what if”. they have grown accustomed to accept the status quo. It is our responsibility now with the new technologies that are available, to remind clients we can take fresh eyes and viewpoints on existing business processes or lines of business. It is with this new fresh view and prior barriers removed, that we unlock true value.
Over the last 20 plus years I have been involved with a variety of advanced analytics. But today I am truly excited for the creative solutions we can help clients develop through the latest advancements, including cognitive!
Check out some of my recommended resources: