We’ve talked long and hard about how salespeople need to listen, listen, listen to the client. Not just hear but really listen to what is being said, how it is being said and so forth. Seeking to understand your clients and prospects is critical to any effective sales relationship.
However, we talk very little about how salespeople get others listening – meaningfully – to them. Let’s face it, you need to have something to say once you have worked out how you are going to help your prospect or client.
How you present what you have to say and how it is received can be a hit and miss affair. So here are four ways to improve the impact of your sales interactions:
1. Make sure what you say is what is heard
A prospect may ask about a capability and you may respond by saying: “We can’t do that right now”. The fact is the prospect could interpret that statement in many different ways. He might hear that your company isn’t as technologically advanced as your rival; or that there’s a problem with being able to match technology; or even that you can’t accommodate the request right now but will be able to in the future
2. Provide clear messages
If your message is unclear or ambiguous, others will fill in the blanks by making up their own meaning. Fix the problem by providing clear, direct and positive messages. Make sure you are clear by using the skill of confirmation – paraphrase your understanding of what people say to you before you respond. That way you give yourself a chance to construct an appropriate response and give the prospect sufficient time to hear your words
3. Mark out key points
We all know minds wander. Even the most compelling sales presentation won’t hold your prospect’s attention 100% of the time. To make sure prospects are listening, learn to use cue phrases at the beginning of a sentence that draw the attention of listeners and allude to something important that’s coming next. These cue phrases give the prospect a second or two to adjust and listen more effectively.
Here are some examples of cues:
- What is most important to recognise is…
- You should anticipate one critical change…
- Here is the most important thing for you to remember…
REMEMBER: In the absence of marking out critical points, the mind will either treat everything as equal or make up what is important.
4. Solve the right problem
One of the most common communication problems in selling is trying to solve a problem before you understand it. That’s especially true in sales when you have an array of solutions and are chasing a target. Taking the time, at the beginning of a sales call, to agree on the problem you’re trying to solve is crucial: the mere act of mutually agreeing on the outcome or problem forces critical thinking and analysis. A lot of time is wasted when people are solving different problems or the wrong problem
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments.