My dear Dad is fast approaching 96 Years of age. He is an amazing character full of wit and charm, but at this ripe old age, as to be expected, his hearing is a little challenged. Despite all the modern advances, even the very best hearing aids struggle to assist him. Nonetheless, he gets by, but it does make for some amusing conversations. Last week, I asked him if he was ready to go and he responded by asking me was it forecast to snow. My Dad’s issue led me to think about the challenges we face in sales and if, on sales calls, we do our very best to listen to our prospects. If you are like me, it can be a struggle and can hurt us in the sales process.
Many times, during my selling career I listed listening as a development area, as part of my sales skills. I had to work hard to be conscious of it all the time. I would often find myself thinking a step or two in advance of the conversation with a prospect. My mind was sometimes thinking about what I was going to say next or I would find myself assuming that I knew what might be coming next. As Julia Robert’s once said in the movie Pretty Woman, when the shop refused to sell her some items, “Big Mistake, Big Mistake.” There are also times in sales calls when we fail to recognize those on the other side of the table and their personality traits. For example, when talking to an introvert, they typically take 8 seconds to hear and digest a question you might ask them. As an extrovert, these 8 seconds can seem like an eternity. We often run right over the question with another during the silence barely listening to the answer to the first question. I once was on a call where I thought I heard a buying signal because I had only heard part of the sentence. I went for the close with complete and utter failure and was rather embarrassed in the process. Sound familiar?
We should all take a cue from our mothers in selling, as mine used to always say “You were given two ears and one mouth; therefore, you should listen twice as much as you speak.” Thanks, Mom. Mom always knows best, right? In reality, Mom was spot on but we often refuse the advice. So, what can we do about it to be better listeners? The first thing we need to do is gear ourselves to slow down. Listening