So you are a professional seller, but do you listen? And more importantly, do you understand the importance of developing your sales listening skills?
Before you respond – buyers do not think so. According to the Forrester annual Executive Buyer Study, eight out of ten buyers believe that agendas are driven from the seller’s perspective rather than theirs, and one third believe that the seller is only really listening for a key word or two so that they can launch into a sales pitch.
Ditch the pitch
This might sound like a dramatic change, but a generic sales pitch is never going to get to the heart of exactly what each individual customer or prospect is looking for in a business partner.
The key to being a great seller is to change the focus of the discussion from your business to theirs. Let’s be honest, customers don’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them.
The good news is that social media is a veritable gold mine of information that can help. Everyday your customers and prospects are talking about their business, asking questions and reaching out in plain view. They are providing you with buying signals. So I ask the question again – are you listening?
Listen first, ask questions later
Take the time to learn about your customer or prospect. What is important to them? What challenges do they face and what’s keeping them up at night? What can be learned from their past successes and failures? What are their goals? What changes are happening in their business and in their market? What are they looking for in a business partner? What does great service look like to them?
These insights can inform the relationship with your customer or prospect, and bring context to every interaction. This is the key to changing your sales approach from a vendor or product-driven one, to a customer-driven one
Once you have listened, you can start asking questions to understand them even better and become familiar to them. This way, when you do pitch it will be to a warm audience rather than a cold one.
The seller that listens reaps the greatest rewards