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Salespeople, shut up and listen

I was sitting in a café in Mexico City. A man at a nearby table was talking into his mobile. My Spanish is only basic, but he kept shouting a word so often that it became embedded in my memory.

Escúchame!   Escúchame!  

This went on for some minutes. Everybody in the place noticed and it caused some smiles. From his manner, and occasional words I understood, it appeared that he was having a row with his girlfriend and telling her to 'Listen to me!'

Whether shouting that to a lady will achieve the desired result is open to question, but if customers always said it to salespeople it would certainly be beneficial.

That's because many of us are bad listeners. We've got vigorous egos that like being in charge; talking comes more naturally than listening. But if you don't take in what prospective customers are telling you, you are ignoring information which could get you an easy sale.

For a while I took this idea to the maximum and recorded phone conversations with prospects, then played them back to myself and typed up the dialogue. With the conversation on paper, I took a highlighter and picked out remarks by the customer which indicated why he would be interested in proceeding with the order. Then I wrote my letter incorporating the customer's own phraseology. This psychological trick seemed to work and I got many contracts from big name organisations.

You don't need to go as far as that. Just keep your mouth shut and your ears open and make your main task to notice 'hot buttons'; the customer's buying motivations. Pick up on them and ask questions showing your insight into what the customer is talking about. Then explain how your product or service can deliver what the customer is looking for.

Notice your 'Talk : Listen ratio'. It was suggested to me, years ago, by my sales manager, that since we have two ears but only one mouth, God intended us to use them in those proportions.

A salesperson not listening properly is a big turn-off for customers. So instead of doing most of the talking, escúchame!

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

The Selling for Engineers manual

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