When you hear the title of Sale Rep or Sales Consultant, what comes to mind? If I were a betting man, I would say a smooth, fast talking individual in a suit that dominates the conversation with repeated closing attempts and rebuttals. A real sales professional however has mastered the art of listening.
Why Is Listening So Important?
One of my best friends is a man I have known since junior high. He’s not much of a talker and yet he is my go to when I have something on my mind I need to talk over. You see, Jeremy is in a rare class of people. He is a true listener.
What makes Jeremy’s personality so unique is that he takes the time to listen purely for the sake of listening. He is not pretending to pay attention to what I am saying while simultaneously thinking about what to say next. In a world where so many people listen to respond, Jeremy just listens. He will offer his opinion if I ask for it, but often in the process of speaking with him, I will come to my own conclusions.
It is very much the same when speaking with customers. In the age of Google, customers have already done their research. Often, they have already determined you and your company have the product they are wanting to purchase. Customers nowadays call to speak with a salesperson to reassure themselves of the conclusion they have already arrived at. Customers love to talk about their problems. A good salesperson knows the questions to ask to get, and keep them talking. Genuinely listening to your customer’s problems like my friend Jeremy does sets you apart as a sales consultant. It shows you truly care about your customer and their needs. While your competitors are busy doing their best to regurgitate a book of features and benefits, you are the one that took the time to just listen to your customer.
Open your ears and your customers will reward you by opening their wallets.
Sales Is Problem Solving
The real essence of selling is identifying the customer’s problem and then working with them to find a solution. Asking open ended questions that get the customer talking allows a sales consultant to flush out the wants and needs of the buyer in a manner that doesn’t feel like an interrogation. It is important to offer the customer a solution that feels tailor made to solve the customer’s specific issue.
Every customer brings a unique set of problems with them they are counting on your company to solve. Not every solution your company offers is a good fit for your customer. It would not make sense to show minivan to a bachelor looking to stand out in his new city. In the same way, it would not make sense to show a growing family of 6 a studio apartment. Many companies offer a wide range of potential solutions for customers. Only by listening is a sales rep able to uncover which solution makes sense for their customer.
How to Lead A Listening Based Conversation
Listening based selling requires that a sales consultant know how to guide a customer to do most of the talking. Open ended questions are a great tool to get even the most introverted of customers to reveal the problem they are looking for your company to solve.
Open ended questions are questions that do not have a simple one word answer. They are questions that give way to a complete conversation. For example, a realtor may ask a potential buyer, “What has you looking to make a housing change?” A good sales pro learns how to take portions of the customer’s response to develop follow up questions that keep the customer talking. A good habit I have personally found success on and train on routinely is the progression of going three levels deep on every primary question. Turning customer answers into additional questions allows a customer to find their voice. In the process of listening, the sales consultant uncovers a treasure trove of information about the customer’s wants and needs. This gives the person doing the selling the best shot of producing a solution that fits the needs of the customer and in turn, the best shot of winning the business.
Despite the stereotype of those in the sales profession, consumers need people to buy from and businesses need professionals who excel at pairing buyers with their product. Talented sales professionals, who truly care about the customers they serve, never go hungry. They are some of the most sought after and highest paid individuals in the business world. Genuine, active listening is the secret weapon that separates those sales consultants at the top of their game from those who end up looking for an hourly job.
Braustin Consulting Group offers custom training solutions for sales teams looking to become experts in the art of listening. If you or your company is looking to refine or develop a winning sales process for your business, please call us at (210) 593-8601 or drop us a note on our contact page. We will actively listen to you and your company’s problems and work with you to develop a tailor-made solution.