If you’ve been involved in sales for much time at all, you’ve probably been advised that it’s better to speak less. In any sales conversation, the ideal situation is for you to ask questions that pull answers out of the potential customer.
The reason this is the case is because when people get a chance to talk they automatically feel a greater sense of trust and start to believe you have the answers just because they are opening up about it.
Getting the prospect to talk is definitely a worthy skill. However, it’s incomplete. A deeper level to the conversation is truly the key to sales: listening.
You may have a great script for getting answers you need that will eventually transfer into a proposal. But the true magic happens when you are intently listening to what the potential customer is saying. Here’s why.
Listening Helps You Solve Problems
It’s important for marketers and sales reps alike to always remind themselves that customers are not buying products. They are buying solutions to problems.
If you are able to solve a specific problem for a specific person, you’ll never have a problem growing revenue. When you get a potential client speaking, you have a gold-mine of information coming in. You need to capture all of it.
You want to hear what their real problem is. If they are willing to take time to have this call, it’s likely there is a problem somewhere. Your job is to discern what that true problem is. By listening you can press deeper into the real issue and get as much detail as possible.
This is helpful not only because if you can solve this particular issue you’ll get the client, but also because you can use these anecdotes in future conversations.
Businesses are not as unique as people like to think. If you are hearing problems, there is a good chance other people have similar problems. You want to know these things so you can find the patterns and be equipped for every sales call.
Listening Helps You Speak the Right Language
As great as it is to ask questions and listen, there comes a point in time where you actually have to speak about why your solution makes sense for this individual.
When you do speak, the most powerful thing you can do is connect your solution to the problems you just heard. An amatuer sales rep will launch right into the same pitch every time.
An experienced pro will take everything they just heard and remember it. Then when you make your pitch, you can share your pitch and why it will help solve the problem. You can even use the same language you just heard. Are they talking about MRR, churn rate, demand generation? Pay attention to any buzzwords you hear, because those words have some meaning to the potential customer.
Listening Builds Rapport
When you get good at the skill of listening well, the person on the other end of the meeting (either by phone, video or in person) will notice. You will show them you are paying attention by how you ask little follow up questions or even repeat back to them what they just said.
“Oh, so you’re saying leads always slow down this time of year?”
A simple follow up will get them to go deeper into what they have already shared, plus have buy-in that you are on their side.
This is important because now you’re building rapport with the prospect. It’s such an important skill to master. People come into sales conversations naturally with their guards up. But by asking good questions and listening well, great sales reps bring those guards down and establish rapport and trust.
Here are two things you can do to start refining these skills.
Have Fewer Prepared Questions
But I thought this was about asking questions and listening? Exactly. When you have a long list of questions, you don’t listen. You just wait for them to stop so you can ask the next question.
Try to ask one question and actually listen. When you listen, you should come up with a follow up question based on what they said. It’s a more natural conversation and is going to give you much more valuable information.
Loosen Your Talking Points
This is the same idea. You have your talking points and you should. However, be ready to go off the script and make sure what you share is related to what your prospect said and how they said it.
When you start to implement these tactics you’ll build greater rapport with potential clients and have a much better understanding of what they need. You’ll enjoy the sales conversations more and have a much higher close rate.