In One Ear Out The Other: The Art of Listening in a Sales Presentation

As a motivational speaker, I don’t consider myself a master at the art of selling, or even close. There are certainly people out there more qualified than me writing books and articles on the art of selling. Apparently there aren’t as many people reading them, or there wouldn’t be so many sales people selling like complete idiots. It’s harsh, I know – but you know it’s true. You’ve seen it. You’ve been in their stores, on their phone calls, or facing them across the desk. It’s amazing how many people in sales do not know what I refer to as the simple basic rules of selling: Listen first, ask second, solve third, and sell last. So to those of you who were asleep for the golden rules of selling, let this article serve as a refresher course. And to those who already know it, keep taking their business. Today’s lesson: Listening.

Listen First

Everybody keeps telling you how important it is to listen to your customer. You’ve been told that for years. But I guess you weren’t listening because you aren’t doing it. Some of you are launching into the selling stage before you’ve ever listened to your customer. And this is a big mistake. You need to hear them – really hear them – shut your mouth and pay attention. Look at them. Nod. Don’t speak. I repeat – do not speak. If you speak you aren’t listening. Keep your mouth shut for a long time. It’s hard, I know. But it will be worth it.

Pay attention to what they are saying. Hear what they’re saying, and even more, what they aren’t. Listen for unspoken objectives. Listen to their needs, their challenges, their problems, their obstacles. If they want to talk about their dog, let them talk about their dog. You aren’t a sales person, you are a problem solver and you can’t solve until you listen.  And many times what you think is their problem is not really their problem.

Know what question to ask to get them started. Mine is simple: Tell me about your event and the people in your audience. That’s all I need to say.

Sometimes it is helpful to repeat to them what you just heard them say. This impresses them because it shows you really listened, and it gives you an opportunity to make sure what you interpreted is what they really said. Listening is the most important part of the relationships with your potential customer. People want to know that they are heard. (This is also the most important part of customer service.)

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