Sales Thought: True sales professionals find the right mix of talking and listening in each selling situation

Effective sales professionals DON’T feel the need to carry every customer conversation.

So many people in sales seem to think it is important for them to talk about what they are selling. The issue with this “my product is important” mindset (and the accompanying sales pitch) is that both reinforce the buyer’s opinion of you as “just another sales person.”

While a Goal can be to go through “classic” discovery, more and more, clients are expecting sales people to come in being more prescriptive. Now, it certainly depends on who you are representing, but many clients won’t give you the time to go through a lot of Discovery until you have earned the right to go through it.

As such, many sales professionals have to go through the process of demonstrating that they understand the customer walking in to the situation. It is not about knowing all about the customer, but it is about being able to start out by saying:

“We have helped a variety of organizations in similar situations address a variety of business needs, including X, Y, and Z.”

The customer should see that you walk with a high level understanding of their business. The most common question from the Customer tends to be “What do you want from us?”

A classic answer would be:

“We would like to know how you are addressing X, Y, and Z today and provide you with examples of how we have assisting other clients address these issues.”

Listen for what your customers think they are looking for.
Each customer has given this some thought before you arrived. You won’t find anything out if you are doing all the talking. Resist the urge to break the ice by talking about what your product does. Listen first! Incorporate what you learn from customers about their needs before you start selling.

The right mix of talking and listening is typically a combination of:

• Discovery questions that allow you to learn more about the customer, the account, and the deal at hand
• Follow-up questions that probe into the customer’s needs
• Statements about your understanding of the problem, followed by a question: “Did I get that right?”
• Then, selling into the agreed-upon problems.

It’s critical to be mindful of the amount of time you are talking versus the amount of time the customer is talking.

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