Many salespeople who haven’t yet reached the professional stage think professional selling is exactly the opposite of what it really is. When you entered the selling field, you may have thought, “Now my job is to talk and talk and talk.” Right? Wrong! My years of experience with millions of salespeople have proven to me that the top people have one very important characteristic in common: they are great listeners. They listen not only with their ears, but with their eyes. They watch key body language signs like the ones we covered in last month’s issue, and they use the knowledge they gain from listening to their advantage.
So instead of sending your mouth off in an unimpressive, “Here it is, folks. Won’t ravel, rust or rip. Can’t blister, break or drip. Oh, you’re going to love it. You better buy right now…” presentation, turn your ears on to listening to what your prospective clients are really looking for.
The professional salesperson, the true champion, realizes that people have two ears and one mouth. To be good at persuading or selling, you must learn to use those natural devices in proportion. Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll succeed in persuading others nearly every time. This means that, after talking 10 seconds, you switch your mouth off, switch your ears on, and listen for 20 seconds. So instead of overwhelming your prospects with words, you encourage them to talk.
People love to feel that what they are saying is important to someone else. By questioning and encouraging others, you are in essence telling them that you’re interested in them and their needs. You’re actually doing the opposite of what the stereotypical salesperson does. You’re not being pushy by telling them things. Instead, what happens when you ask someone a question is that you are pulling answers out of them; there’s no pushing about it. Top-producing salespeople and extremely successful people in life in general know this and benefit tremendously from the strategy. It’s very low-key and works great in building personal relationships as well.
Here are three examples of a salesperson pushing, instead of pulling:
1. “This is the best there is. Nothing on the market can touch it. We’ve got the best products because we’re miles ahead of the competition. You better get it.”
2. “This insurance will do more for you than anything else you can find. You really better hurry and get it.”
3. “These items are on sale. Why waste your time shopping around? You can’t get them for less.”
Do you see what I mean when I say they are pushing? In fact, you could even say the above examples are almost argumentative. The salesperson is telling people things before he or she has learned what he or she wants to hear. They’re trying to ram obviously self-serving statements down their prospects’ throats. In effect they are saying, “I’m out to make you buy something. The only reason I’m doing that is to put money in my pocket, and I don’t care whether what you buy helps you or not.”
Such tactics quickly drive off everyone except the few who love to argue.
Professional salespeople, on the other hand, never give anyone the impression that they’re pushing them—for the simple reason that they never push. But they do lead.
By not talking all the time, by listening instead, by asking artful questions, the champion leads his or her prospects from the initial contact to happy involvement in owning the product or service. In all this alert and pointed questioning, the true professional maintains a friendly attitude of interest and understanding that encourages the prospect to open up and give the desired information freely.
Have you ever been surprised at how freely you’ve talked to certain salespeople before buying from them? They were alert and interested. You felt comfortable with them. Recalling those conversations, you may think you were leading and the salesperson was following. Superficially, that was true—at first. In a deeper sense, however, that professional salesperson was leading all the way and you were following all the way.
How did that happen? Having a variety of products or services to offer you, the pro encourages you to start off. Once you set your direction, he or she gets smoothly in front and begins to lead you toward any of several open paths to purchase. When artful questioning reveals which of the several paths is best, the pro guides you smoothly and warmly to it. The halter goes over your head so softly that you never think about bucking. Instead you buy.
(Reproduced with permission from Your Achievement Ezine. Aug. 11, 2010)