Posted by: johnocunningham | February 22, 2013

Want to Sell More? Listen More

Recently, I ran across a nice short post by Susan Saltonstall Duncan entitled, “How to Sell: Stop Pitching and Start Listening.”

It reminded me of advice I have repeatedly heard offered from C-Suite executives about how to impress them in a 10-minute visit (and sometimes 10 minutes is all you get). The executives I have heard at marketing and sales conferences have basically told audience members to spend at least half their time listening.

They hear rushed and canned presentations all the time from people who are basically “strutting” when they should be trying to make a connection. These executives want to see how well someone can capture essential information about their businesses and demonstrate – through follow-up – that they heard the message and have something relevant to offer AFTER the meeting.

The fact is that there are plenty of smart people in the world, and plenty of good talkers, but there is a relative paucity of service providers who truly listen and dedicate themselves first and foremost to demonstrating that they understand their clients by making their clients’ businesses and their lives better.

As noted in the aforementioned article, prospective clients have stated in surveys that professional service sellers and providers have most often failed by:

  • Not listening to the prospect;
  • Not understanding their needs; and
  • Not crafting compelling solutions that fit their particular needs.

This is why extroverts are not always the best salespeople. Their strength is a willingness to reach out, but their weakness is found in a tendency to talk more about themselves. This has been noted not only in Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive: The Truth About What Motivates Us,” but also in the recent best-seller by lawyer-turned-author, Susan Cain, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

The truth is that a successful salesman/rainmaker needs to have the social boldness and friendly warmth of the extrovert, as well as the patient empathy and listening skills of the introvert.

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