Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

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Mar
18

The Art of Asking and Listening – Active Listening

In the Sales 101 book that I’ll eventually get around to writing, learning how to shut up may end up being the sole topic of the first chapter. It’s truly shocking to me how often I witness a sales person dominating a conversation with a customer. The less your customer speaks, the less likely it is you’re going to figure what his/her problem is and because of that, the probability that you’ll be able to discoverer an opportunity or address his/her needs will be almost zero. Simple as that.

Successful sales people listen to their customers, making each communication with a customer an opportunity for the customer to say more about themselves, their situation and their needs. As much as we have been taught that listening is a passive activity, good listening is actually an active one. It involves asking questions about what the customer is saying to show that you are, in fact, listening, that you understand what they are saying and that you are interested in learning more. As much as a conversation with a customer should never be about your ego, it should always be about their ego. Make them feel great about what they are saying and show your respect for them by working to understand fully and expressing your interest.

I was just in a meeting where two of the people at the table never said a word. This wasn’t a pecking order or hierarchy thing, they were equal players as far as the sale went. It was clear that their lack of talking had actually led them to be bored and disengaged within a few minutes of the start of the meeting. In this meeting, the sales person was doing all the talking. He never asked a single question of the two people or anyone else for that matter. At this point, I don’t think that sale will ever happen.

Societally, we often think of sales people as the best talkers. In fact, the best sales people are the great listeners.

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 March 18th, 2011  
 Will  
 Management, Selling  
   
 2 Comments

2 Responses to The Art of Asking and Listening – Active Listening

  1. No, my father is a salesman. Best piece of advice he gave me: in a negotiation, the first one who speaks loses. To your point, the best communicator is the best listener. The people who “can’t stand silence” are the one who don’t know what they want, and end up settling for what whomever the salesman in front of the them sells them.

  2. Future Purchasing

    So what’s the longest anyone has ever gone without speaking? If the category management buyer and the salesman have both been on the same training course then this is going to be a long negotiation