One of the very best closing tools that you all have in your back pocket is the ability to REALLY listen to a client or a prospect. That’s correct: really listening to a client or a prospect will move you closer to closing the deal.
Why? The answer is very simple. When we REALLY listen to a client, when they FEEL they are being listened to, when their need to be HEARD is being fulfilled, they move towards gaining intimacy with their salesperson which in turn moves them closer to closing.
Every week, I get to sit chair-side with many of my clients when they are sales pitching, either on a face-to-face appointment or during a phone call. It is very powerful, as a sales coach, to be able to sit back, listen, watch and observe “Humanities 101” in process: the exchange between a salesperson and a potential client.
It is amazing that something as simple as listening falls by the wayside and takes a back seat to the sales pitch. I am not talking about a back seat in the sedan—I am talking about the back seat in a Boeing 747! We as salespeople have done this to ourselves. We are so engrossed in wanting to convince our clients that in many cases we forget plain and simple manners and instead do things that distract ourselves and our clients from the goal. Typical things I see are unnecessary interruptions, speaking a mile a minute, fidgeting, no eye contact, and other types of non-professional conduct.
A survey was conducted many years ago that showed us that in a typical sales conversation of 100 words, we stop listening to the other person by the 7th word and by the 10th word we have already formulated our answer. The survey went on to say that from the 10th word to the 100th word spoken by a client, the salesperson would check out of the conversation and for the most part ignore the last 90 words the client spoke. Talk about a disconnect of the human spirit! Salespeople do it to clients, parents do it to their children, and spouses do it to each other.
Beyond that, many salespeople are hired assassins when it comes to buttering up, and yet they fail miserably at really listening, really connecting, and, most importantly, gaining an intimate connection with their clients. Another survey conducted in the late 90s asked the respondents what their biggest NEED as a human being was? The #1 answer was the need to be HEARD!
How do we gain that intimate connection with a client?
We LISTEN and listen like never before.
The biggest fault to overcome when listening is the urge to interrupt. Today, make it a point to stop interrupting. When a client has finished his or her statement or question, PAUSE and take a deep BREATH. In many cases, the client interprets the pause as a psychogenic sign to continue to speak. Remember those 90 words that I wrote about earlier? In many instances, when we allow the client to continue to speak, we find out CLUES— clues that will help us close the deal and enable us to gain intimacy! After you have paused, taken the breath, and know FOR SURE the client is finished, then respond! In a dialog responding to an objection, you might re-engage the client or prospect by stating “May I comment?” In responding to a question, you keep the client on track, and find out more information, by answering the “why” of the question as well as providing the needed information.
“When the client’s need to be HEARD is fulfilled, we gain intimacy with that client and move closer to closing them!”
Characteristics of Great Listeners:
- Excellent eye contact
- Asks questions
- Entertains discussion
- Repeats what was said
- Stays focused
- Emotionally controlled
- Doesn’t interrupt
- Doesn’t change subject
- Says “okay”
Characteristics of Poor Listeners:
- Constantly interrupts
- Jumps to conclusions
- Finishes sentences
- Is distracted
- Changes subject
- Is impatient
- Loses temper
- Speaks too fast
These are just a few of the basic listening characteristics. Please note that these characteristics go much deeper, exposing layer upon layer as it relates to the personality style of the salespersons as well as the personality style of the client. In my SalesMastery Sales Training course we actually explore this deep range of communication characteristics so graduates really become experts at knowing and understand what listening will do for them and their specific causes.
In closing, remember this: 78% of our day is spent communicating. We also know that 7 out of 10 messages are either… misunderstood, mistaken, missed, or messed.
This means that we communicate at 30% efficiency level. Imagine that if you IMPLEMENT some of the ideas shared in this article, your efficiency will increase, and your intimate connection with your clients will improve which means more sales and higher revenues! Don’t let past experiences or bad habits get in your way.