How the Best Salespeople Sell – Part Two

It has long been said that the best salespeople have the gift of gab. It has also long been dead wrong. The best salespeople in fact have the gift of listening. They listen well, very well.

The best salespeople, and the best communicators in general, listen to understand rather than just listening to respond. They listen with all their senses and they listen with their heart. They use their empathy skills to focus not only on what was said but what was actually meant. 

The best salespeople do not “filter” what was said through their own biases or life lens. They accept what was said and don’t simply dismiss the things they don’t want to hear. When speaking with anyone they give that person one of the greatest signs of respect that a person can offer, their full attention. 

The best salespeople ask the best questions and that is not a coincidence. They know what they don’t know and they know that lack of information is a real challenge for a professional salesperson. They also know that challenge is small when compared with what they do know that isn’t so…. misinformation or just plain wrong information, when accepted as fact, will kill salesperson’s chance to really help a prospect and earn their business.

The best salespeople ask lots of questions, particularly open ended questions and they allow the prospect time to think about an answer. They are not afraid of a little silence as the customer searches for an answer. They know that if a prospect or customer can instantly answer every question then they probably aren’t asking meaningful enough questions to uncover real wants and needs. Without understanding those wants and needs a professional salesperson knows their odds of earning a customer’s business go way way down.

The best salespeople seldom discuss price without also discussing value. They believe in the value their product or service provides to the customer. They are skilled at using the information the customer provided when answering questions to help the customer understand and see the value too. When having the price/value discussion the best salespeople do not overstate, exaggerate or lie. EVER!

The best salespeople accept personal responsibility for a lost sale. They work to discover their weakness or the weakness of their offering and then they work to improve it. They work; the best salespeople simply put more effort into getting the results that they want. They know that sales is either the lowest paying easy job they will ever have or the most challenging highest paying job they could ever want. They know that everyday both options are a choice and they choose the challenge and accept the high compensation that comes with it.

They best salespeople hate to lose and they are excellent at hiding that fact. They don’t blame the prospect for their decision to go elsewhere and they don’t rip on the competition. They don’t stop calling on “lost” accounts, instead redoubling their efforts to earn the business back. 

Low performing salespeople will never admit to being outsold but the best salespeople know they can be outsold by other “best” salespeople at any time. They relish that competition and use it to strengthen their resolve and push themselves to constantly improve their product knowledge and skills. 

The best salespeople love the profession of selling and respect it with integrity and high ethical standards. Their goal is not so much to sell as it is to help their customer buy. They know that by doing the right things right the outcome will more times then not be right as well. 

The best salespeople do the right things right. How many of these things do you do right each day? If you were on trial, charged with being a “best” salesperson, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

If not then start building your case today. You can become a best salesperson any time you wish…. Simply do the right things right.

Hearing Isn’t Listening

Just because you’ve been blessed with the sense of hearing does not mean you’ve been blessed with the skill of listening. 

Hearing is in fact one of the five senses. It is merely the act of perceiving sound and receiving sound waves or vibrations through your ear. Unless you’re hearing impaired you likely take that ability for granted. You also seldom stop to think about the difference between hearing someone speak and actually listening to what was said. 

The failure to understand that difference is often a fatal mistake for new and emerging leaders.

Listening is the act of hearing a sound and actually understanding what you hear. It usually requires more than just the sense of hearing. Great communicators are great listeners, they use the sense of hearing, seeing, and sense of touch. 

Great communicators know that listening is a skill that requires you to stop talking long enough to let the sound you hear go through your brain so it can process the meaning of it. 

The best communicators are active listeners. Active listening means also observing what you hear, like the speaker’s body language and emotions, in order to better understand what the speaker is truly saying. 

When we fail to listen we lose the ability to understand and interpret what was said. When we fail to listen we create a communication “gap” and we often fill that gap with our personal bias, judgements and experiences. That’s where the “you said this, no I didn’t” arguments usually come from. 

Hearing will never build a relationship with anyone. If you want to build relationships with anyone you’ll need to listen to them. When people know you’re interested enough to truly listen to them then they will know enough to know that you also truly care.

And oh by the way, don’t kid yourself; if you’re talking you’re most certainly NOT listening.

Listen to This, Not This

Yes, that’s what I said, I said NOT to listen! I suppose you think it’s kind of odd that I would say don’t listen, especially considering how many times I have blogged or tweeted about the importance of listening. 

The most successful people listen well. The most successful salespeople are some of the best listeners you’ll ever find. When you listen you learn. You can learn more in a minute of listening then you can learn in a lifetime of talking. 

The ability to build strong relationships with another is directly related to your ability to listen. So many people just want someone to listen to them. If you’re that someone who is willing and able to listen then you could make yourself a new friend in a big hurry. 

I have a friend who was flying from Minneapolis to Miami and before his flight even took off his seat-mate had struck up a conversation and they talked all the way to Miami. Well, “they” didn’t really talk, his seat-mate actually did 95% of the talking while my friend simply listened, talking only enough to answer questions and keep the “conversation” going.  

At the end of the flight my friend’s seat-mate noted how enjoyable the trip had been and commented on what a wonderful conversationalist my friend was. I always knew my friend, Mark, was a great listener and that flight proved it. 

People who listen well use all their senses to listen; they listen with their eyes, with their heart, with their experience, and of course they listen to understand not just to respond.

People who listen well focus on what the other person is saying and they linger on their words, not responding until they are certain what was said. Most of us are frankly afraid that if we hesitate too long to respond we will look dumb so we often respond too soon and prove that we are. 

Always listen well and you’ll succeed….. or will you? I’ve already said I’m a huge proponent of listening well but now I need to qualify that a bit by adding this:

Be careful what AND who, you listen too. There will be people in your life that tell you that you can’t succeed. Some of them will just be making a “throw-away” comment, having nothing to base their comment on. Sadly, some will simply be hoping you fail because they failed before you and really sadly, some of them do not have your best interest in mind. DON’T listen to any of it. DON’T listen to people who say you cannot succeed and for heavens sake, never say that to yourself. 

Don’t listen to negative people, their negativity IS contagious, you may think they can’t affect you but if you listen to enough of their garbage you will be affected. Just do yourself a huge favor and stay away from them. Hanging around people of limited success is the fastest way to limit your own success!

So, listen up but be careful what and who you listen to. It’s great to be a good listener but only if what you listened to is equally great! 

Are you listening?

The One Person you MUST Listen To

th 2Are you a good listener? Listening is a skill and by definition we can improve a skill through practice. Most people who struggle with their listening skills listen to respond to the speaker rather than listening to understand the speaker.

Some excellent listeners hold themselves back but listening to the wrong things and the wrong people. You see, WHAT you listen to is just as important as WHO you listen to.

We all have people in our lives that see the dark side of everything. They would even complain about their ice cream being too cold. It would be easy to say that their negative attitudes are their problem but the truth is, if we’re listening to them, it’s our problem too.

Their negative attitude can be contagious. They can infect us to the point that we start to agree with them.

Always keep this in mind, we may, because of work situations or family situations, have to be around negative people but we DO NOT have to listen to them. Successful people do not let negative people hold them back.

The one person you should always listen to is yourself. One you’ve made the decision to maintain a positive attitude, your own “self-talk” can help block out the negative talk coming from some of those around you.

Never let other people tell you that you can’t succeed and for heavens sake, never say it to yourself. Keep your inner voice a positive voice and when things don’t seem to be going well, listen to yourself.

Successful people tell themselves that they will succeed and they believe it.

So be a good listener but remember, it’s important to listen up but it’s even more important to listen in!  

Why You Don’t Remember Names

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So, you’ve just met someone and of course one of the first things they did was tell you their name. Now just five minutes later you couldn’t repeat their name if your own life depended on it.

You apologize and mumble something about your terrible memory as you ask them to repeat their name.

Sound familiar? Well, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that you just told a little white lie there. The good news is that in all likelihood your memory is just fine. You didn’t “forget” their name you never heard it in the first place. Now don’t get to worrying about your hearing cause that’s fine too, you don’t have a hearing problem, what you have is a listening problem.

You see, while they were telling you their name you, instead of listening, were thinking of what you were going to say next. You, like lots of lots of other people, didn’t want there to be a pause while you were considering what they said. As they were talking you were preparing to respond.

You made the most common listening mistake there is: you listened to respond instead of listening to understand.

There is a world of knowledge out there for those that listen well. When we commit to really listen we discover details that make succeeding much faster and often, much easier. Listening is a skill, and like any skill we can improve it through practice.

Don’t worry about a little silence as you seek to understand what was said to you before replying, great communicators seek to understand before they seek to be understood.

If you’re serious about listening better here is a bit of homework for you: ask three people that know you well what you can do to be a better listener and then do it. Don’t argue, don’t disagree, just do it. If you’ve picked the right three people they will know what you need to do.

If you’re really serious about listening better and you are married, make certain that one of those three people is your spouse. The same rules apply, no arguing, just do it.

Now, back to remembering names… Oh geez, it looks like we’re out of time.

In Friday’s post I’ll share with you a formula that will make remembering names (assuming you really heard them) much easier and even fun. Until then listen up, you’ll never remember what you didn’t hear in the first place.