If you read Relax, I lied. For whatever reason, this step is harder.
It shouldn’t be, but for most salespeople it just is.
Listening just seems to be difficult to pull off. We want to talk, share our perspective, communicate. And we want to have people agree with us.
The act of buying is arguably the clearest, most concrete evidence of agreement. The customer is saying, with their dollars (or pounds, euros, yen, etc.), that they too think your solution will fix their problem.
And you can’t do that if you’re not busy telling them about all the wonderful features and benefits your solution will deliver on their behalf. Right?
True, they want to have their problem solved, whatever it happens to be. And yes, they need to learn about all your whiz-bang features and functions. But they need to communicate, too. And they want agreement.
Your customer wants to convince you.
“Huh?” you say.
Yes. Your customer needs to explain and discuss and complain and be understood. They need to educate you. About the company, about the market, their product, the difficulties with production, with their commute, or their crazy uncle. Whatever. You need to understand this. All of it.
What your customer is looking for is this… “Yes, she gets it.” You understand. You’ve be educated on their specific problems and challenges and all the other various details. You’ve come to an agreement, an understanding.
Sure, you want to explain the myriad ways that your solution can solve their very specific problem. But you can’t do that until you understand what their problem even is.
And ultimately, you won’t get anywhere if the customer isn’t convinced that you ‘get it.’
Learn. Understand. Educate.
The real purpose of any sales call is to first learn, and then understand, and then educate. To do that, you need to listen. Being skilled at listening is a sales superpower. It is a fundamental requirement for any consistent sales success.
Which means that there’s a lot to it, and worth serious study.
But, in simple terms, listening requires you to ask your question (if you’re selling, you’re asking questions) and then pause. Wait. Let the customer respond, fully and at their own pace.
Let them determine the rhythm of the conversation. Give them space to elaborate, go off on tangents, complain or ramble. Listen to what they’re telling you. How does it apply to the problem you’re there to solve? Are they uncovering other problems?
If they ask you a question, answer succinctly, crisply, honestly. Ask if that answers their question, and encourage their thoughts. Then, get back to listening.
Again, there’s a lot to this. Effective listening is a critical skill. It requires thought and practice. It’s not easy.
Who wants easy?