Just Listen

While interviewing prospective media sales reps and visiting with seasoned sales reps, every once in a while I meet people who proudly proclaim their strength to be, “I’ve got the gift of gab.”  They say this as it’s a strength instead of a potential weakness.

In sales, the “gift of gab” can oftentimes be more aptly described as “the curse of chatter”, or more to the point as someone that “doesn’t know when to shut up”!

Successful sales professionals know that sales is really more about listening than it is about talking.

Those with the curse more often engage in product-feature speak than they do in providing customer-focused solutions or opportunities.

Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care….and caring is demonstrated by listening.

Listening is by far the most important skill a sales professional can learn and practice.  The salespeople who annoy and alienate prospects the most are those who claim to be good listeners but follow every customer objection with a “yah, but…..

There is no room for the word “but” in a good listener’s vocabulary. To be a professional listener you need to:

1.) Be Prepared. Earn the right to ask questions by learning something about the prospect’s business before you make a call.

2.) Ask open-ended questions that encourage the prospect to express their views and feelings.

3.) Demonstrate you are listening by taking notes. (Always ask permission to take notes, i.e. “Your input is important to me; do you mind if I take a few notes?”)

4.) Paraphrase and summarize what you hear.  Don’t start a debate.

5.) Use the language and needs you hear the customer express when you make your presentation.

6.) Make certain that every benefit you present relates to a need you heard the prospect express.

There is a lot more money to be made being interested than there is in being interesting.

So, instead of proving that you have the “gift of gab”, shut up and… Just Listen!