It’s not about me; it’s about you. I love the phrase from Zig Ziglar that everyone walks around tuned into the radio station, WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me.”
I learned the true secret weapon of all great sales professionals is the ability to truly and actively listen to our prospects. To sit across from them or on the phone with them, and truly be actively engaged in the conversation with them and to LISTEN to them as they tell you about their goals and objectives—this is where the magic happens. Most salespeople won’t do this. They simply are waiting to respond. In the Sales Mastery course that I created with the world-famous Dan Kennedy, we talked about being actively engaged in the conversation with the prospect at all times.
While I was breaking into the sales game as a young pup right out of college, one of my early sales mentors was William T O’Donnell, who taught me how to act as a professional salesperson. How being a professional salesperson meant studying, learning, and practicing every day, but not just sales; you also needed to study marketing, psychology, and human behavior. But most importantly, he taught me how to truly serve my client by not worrying about what I wanted but by truly listening to them in the discovery and getting to the heart of what they wanted, understanding their hopes and dreams, and wants for their families and business.
Once you take yourself out of the equation, you can begin to focus on them, and when you focus on them, the sales just naturally seem to happen. When the prospect realizes that you are invested in their success and want to help them achieve their goals, then they can begin to trust you. When they trust you, you become a valuable partner to them.
My favorite Bill story he shared was that he was in follow-up mode on a prospect and was being dodged very hard. However, he found out the prospect’s jogging route and met him on the first mile with the agreement and pen tucked in his running shorts, now that is follow-up. However, the story was not really about follow-up. That was a byproduct. The speech was that by actually being engaged in the conversation, Bill knew that this was the right thing for this prospect and his young family. Bill taught us every day that the work we did mattered and how we went about it mattered. In an interview, he talks about his legacy is that he truly listens to his clients, as they talk to him about their hopes and dreams and issues, and therefore was able to assist them in achieving their hopes and dreams. They became part of each other’s family.
I have been thinking about the power of actively listening to our prospects a lot and how often we take it for granted and simply don’t do it. Most sales are lost because the prospect did not feel the salesperson truly understood their problems and issues. The more actively engaged we are in the conversation and practice the art of truly listening to the prospects, we then can begin to deeply and emotionally connect with them. When we connect with them, we dramatically increase our chances of serving them, and the only way to serve them is to make a sale. As I think back on my selling career and the truly wonderful relationships I have with my customers, it was that I was truly engaged in our conversation and listened to their hopes and dreams.
If you want to increase your closing percentages and referrals, then make the commitment to actively engage in the art of listening. If you focus on what the client is saying and also how they are saying it, this will allow you to better serve them. Listen and watch everything, and teach your salespeople to do the same.
When I am with a sales consulting client, I make sure to always spend time in the field with clients’ salespeople or listen to their sales calls MORE times than not, the salespeople simply not listening. They were actively waiting just to answer. Many times the client told us what they wanted, and all you had to do was lean in and actively listen to their answers.
Today we are so distracted and casual about everything we do. We have multiple screens going on at the same time to fool ourselves that we are productive because we are “multi-tasking”. We simply don’t practice this, one of the traits that great salespeople are the ability to truly listen to the answers that people are giving them and to be curious.
So here is a test that I want you and your sales teams to do, really commit to fully listening to the prospect on your next sales calls for 30 days. Actively be engaged in the answers to their questions, and watch their body language. Before you respond to the prospect, pause, make yourself really pause, and then respond, at the end of 30 days, to see if you see an increase in business because of it.
To paraphrase Ted Lasso, “…. be curious and listen to what they are saying..”.
Business is too difficult at times not to have fun and make a considerable profit. Your future bank, self, and your family will thank you. If you ever want to talk this through a sales issue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org