Selling is Not a Profession for the Hearing Impaired
Questioning and listening skills go hand-in-hand. It is very difficult to excel in one without the other.
I frequently hear complaints from managers that their sales people are not good listeners. The real problem is they are not proficient at asking effective questions that elicit information that is worth listening to.
Good listening comes much easier when customers have something very interesting, sensitive and important to say. It is the job of the sales person to elicit this information with provocative questions that are neutral, balanced and rich in content for customers.
However, to be able to execute effectively good listening and questioning skills you must have the right frame of mind.
Here are the convictions, ideas, and states of mind that lead to masterful questioning and listening for sales people:
- Curiosity and natural inquisitiveness.
- Caring more to understand than to be understood.
- No emotional attachment to the outcome.
- A belief that no one really cares about you, your company or your product. They only care about themselves. As long as you believe this on a certain level you will put all your focus on customers.
- Knowing that in the world of sales less is more. A strong sense of moderation and proportion is critical in not using information proliferation as your main sales strategy.
- Taking on a long-term perspective.
- Believing that sales is more about seeking the truth and less about the art of persuasion.
- The notion that what you have to sell has no inherent uniqueness or differentiation. Beauty is in the eye of the holder.
- Selling with a non-selling posture; unbiased and impartial.
- Knowing that the customer has all the answers as long as they trust you have all the right questions with the right intentions.
- The notion that one must give up being in charge to have customers feel safe and secure.
- Having a low need for approval and validation.
- Always seeking to be authentic, real and transparent.
- Being willing and open to hear negative news from your customer.
- One can prolong gratification easily.
- A quiet confidence, instead of loud enthusiasm.
- Strategic thinking, instead of transactional selling.
- Professional detachment to what you are selling and a professional attachment to caring about the customer's problems.
- The belief that the best sales person at the selling event is most always the customer. They have all the answers, they have all the information, they have the inside track, just let them sell themselves.
- The belief that in the information economy you are paid and rewarded for your questions and your listening, not your answers and your solution.
- Believing trust has to be earned before one earns the right to ask the tough questions.
Masterful listening and questioning skills do not so much require tactical skills, as much as they do a state of mind of curiosity, detachment, a non-selling posture, the desire to seek the truth, and have a thorough understanding of the customer's reality.