You’ve just arrived at a big social event hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of business owners are there. Everyone knows that networking will take place and perhaps the odd business deal will be secured; however, they’re really all there to have fun; to spend time getting to know people that they wouldn’t normally be able to talk to at any other time.
Then someone you’ve never seen before wanders over, and before you can say, “Hello”, the chap blurts out that famous ice breaker: “What do you do?” And not wanting to seem rude, you dutifully recite your “elevator speech”. With a speed that would rival the fastest gun in the West, the chap hands you his business card and exclaims, “I can help you with that.”
Now what’s going through your mind?
- Are thrilled to have met this person because of the futility you’ve experienced from searching all year for someone with these extraordinary skills?
- Do you fumble with your plate trying to get your diary out without dropping it in your coffee?
- And are you congratulating yourself for braving the evening’s weather and coming out to the event, rather than staying out home with a hot water bottle and the BBC?
We’ve all seen this sort of thing. Maybe we’ve even done it.
Perhaps it’s less obvious, however, when it happens in a business meeting. You know, one where you’ve obtained an appointment with a decision-maker to discuss a problem that you have solved for many other companies. And maybe you’ve have done without even realising it. Maybe this is the reason why you’ve lost the business deals that you thought you had in the bag.
How could this possibly happen?
How could you as an experienced sales person do such a thing? Actually, it’s quite easy. The problem isn’t that you don’t know what to do. Instead it’s that you’ve forgotten to listen.
Listening is a lost art
There’s something about silence that makes people think they’ve lost the sale. And so when the prospect takes a moment to think, the seller keeps on selling. He or she changes the mix of the deal, adds services, throws in products, offers discounts, reduces the commission, or eliminates it altogether. And the thing is that none of that would be necessary if we just waited a moment, and let the prospect think about what had been said already. There’s an old saying? “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And when you keep on selling when you should be listening, you’re giving your prospect every reason not to buy. You’re saying to the decision-maker, “The thing I want more than anything else is your business.”
People want to have the freedom to choose
They want to buy when they’re ready. And they won’t do it until they know that you care. And when they are convinced of that, then they will close the sale for you. All you’ll have to do is write the order.
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