Listening skills aren’t often spoken about in B2B sales training courses, at least not as often as it should.
I think it’s because sales people imagine they talk a lot less than they actually do, so it’s not until the sales person actually measures it, or listens back to calls, or even get feedback from the buyer that they realise how much of the sales conversation they dominate.
And that’s a shame.
It’s also the reason why lots of buyers say No.
Too much noise.
Not enough time to process.
Too high a volume of information being projectile verbally vomited in their lap…
Not pretty is it?
Yet, as sales people, we all do it from time to time, so here’s…
5 Times Your Buyer Wants You To Shut Up!
1. Prospecting calls
Remember, this is just a fact find.
The idea is to ask big, fat, fact finding open questions so the buyer can give you as much information as he deems relevant to your brilliantly insightful questions…(you do ask brilliantly insightful questions don’t you? If in doubt check here – Brilliantly Insightful Questions All Sales People Should Know)
Being so brilliant with your sales question, this is a key time to shut up.
To employ those listening skills.
Gathering all that valuable insight from the buyer.
Letting your mind focus on what he’s saying so you can respond intelligently with another brilliant and relevant sales question (rather than some raked up questions by rote you’ve been using for the last 3 years, as is what usually happens)
Your buyer will appreciate your silence.
Your buyer will instantly lose any concept of value in speaking with you if you barge into his every sentence with a relevant or irrelevant semi sales pitch adjunct.
See, you’ve done the hard work, got through the gate keeper, you’ve got the decision maker, don’t talk him to death. Stifle his sharing or restrict his freedom to speak. Just don’t!
Big, open beautifully brilliant sales questions are only half the battle…the value is in the information they extract and how you capture and use that information.
2. Discovery Calls
Now this is the meaty heart of the sales call.
You and the buyer concur there is some potential common ground here, and you’ve both set aside maybe 15 minutes to explore this potential further.
There is no obligation on any side.
You want to see if there is a commercial fit with this buyer and his organisation.
The buyer wants to see if there is any value to exploring his needs for your product/service with you.
Mutual fact find, not a sales pitch.
You’d expect a typically split of at least 50/50 talk time between you and the buyer…even if the industry standard is 20/80 for the buyer.
How surprised would you be if in reality I told you the split was more like 80/20 where the sales person does the bulk of the talking?
It’s also criminal.
Criminal because it’s so costly in terms of lost sales opportunities, brand damage and just think of the amount of time, effort and money that goes into generating a sales lead.
All that lost because you can’t keep quiet and employ the listening skills needed to create rapport faster than anything else.
3. Objection Handling Time
Now more than ever do you need to listen.
Listen like you’ve never listened before, because this is where the buyer typically unpacks are the reasons why he’s not going to buy from you (and if you struggle with this – take a quick read of When is a No Not a No?)
And if you listen hard, you’ll understand what he’s actually telling you. It’s often not what you think! (Especially if your brain automatically goes to a negative place)
The sales prospect is often telling you all the hurdles you need to jump through so that when you ask for the order again, he will say yes.
He’s giving you your ‘to do’ list so you can win his business!
Now, surely that’s benefit enough for you to switch of the verbal gear and tune in those ears and give the buyer the benefit of a good listening too?
To be good at sales, be good at listening.
Under performing sales people forget to use their listening skills, yet it’s the simplest of skills to improve.
Just stop talking!!!
Especially if the buyer throws you a curve ball!
4. Any Time the Prospect is Talking
I know, a bit of a coverall this one.
But very very true.
Be very careful about interrupting prospects.
After all, who knows what gem they might forget to tell you before they were so rudely interrupted.
5. When You’ve Asked for the Order
When you’ve asked for the order.
More sales are lost at this time than any other.
Don’t be the one to talk the buyer out of his uncomfortable state…
Tension is a critical part of progressing the sales call, and never more so than when you’ve asked for the order.
Let him contemplate and reflect.
Let the tension belowng to the buyer to break the silence, not you.
Listening Skills vs Talking Skills
Talking is easy.
But it takes skill to listen.
(Which is odd, because it should be the other way around, but perhaps we all are just a little bit in love with the sound of our own voices, maybe?)
Ether way, your number one job is to pick out what the sales prospect is saying as much as what he’s not saying.
Not everyone is a natural listener.
Some people are uncomfortable when they’re just listening.
Instead, they feel pressure, feeling the expectation to perform, to add value, to be seen and heard.
Now, if that’s you, here’s me reframing that thought process for you.
If you’ve amassed all the research you need before making contact with your prospect.
When you’ve invested the time and developed a list of great sales questions.
If you’ve value to share with the prospect then it’s ok to surrender control of the call to the sales buyer occasionally, see where he goes with it.
It’s the fastest and surest way to discover what is actually on the buyers mind.
This will ALWAYS be far more relevant than whats on your sales agenda.
It’s a million times more important to the buyer.
Even if you do think you’re full of wisdom and value!
Listening skills rock a good sales call.
And, no-one ever listened themselves out of a sales, but I’ve seem 100’s of sales people talk themselves out of one!
Be a listener, you’re buyers will love you and not know why!
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p.s. If you can’t master great listening skills, you might find it tough to ever reach your true sales potential