Professional salespeople are focused on being solutions providers. To do so they must excel at gathering information from the prospect to determine if leasing land to us fora structure or if outdoor advertising would in fact be a good fit for their business. Executed properly a professional sales call is much more like an interview than a “pitch” as most would envision.
To be a good interviewer, the salesperson must learn the ability to talk much less and listen a lot more. The ability, the desire and the patience to listen are prerequisites to success in OOH sales. Almost no one is just naturally a great listener…they become so by focusing and being intentional about it. Let’s talk about some quick tips to better listening.
1. Prepare in advance. As you wait for the meeting, think about your prospect. Don’t allow yourself to focus on other issues right before you pick up the phone or walk into their office. Pledge to yourself that you will give this prospect/client the best listening-to they have ever received!
2. Set a goal. Vow in the time allotted you will get their values,beliefs, goals, desires, dreams, fears and pain better than anyone ever has. Muster all the concentration you can. Listen to understand, not to respond.
3. Get into a listening posture. Give steady eye contact, resist the temptation to let your eyes shift around as you think. Sit slightly forward when the prospectspeaks, lean back when you speak. Nod occasionally. Smile and lift your eyebrows occasionally.
4. Take notes. It’s polite to ask permission to do so, but you will almost never be denied. Taking notes shows your interest in what they are saying, helps you stay in control of the sales call, and provides valuable data to review later.
5. Screen out distractions. Don’t glance around the office while the prospect speaks. Pay no attention to noise filtering into the room. Don’t be thrown off by people who may walk by. Imagine you and prospect are in a tunnel alone and all you can see or hear is each other. Focus only on the message being related.
6. Limit your talking. You can’t listen and speak at the same time. Hold your fire. Hear the prospect out completely on every topic. Don’t interrupt even if you have a pat answer to a point the prospect makes. Judge the meaning of what is being said only after all the words are spoken.
Several years ago, I was meeting with a large regional bank executive regarding with working with them in an extensive engagement. At about the 30-minute mark in our conversation he abruptly stopped mid-sentence. He said, “I just figured something out”. When I asked what that was, he said, “We’ve been speaking for quite awhile now and you haven’t said much of anything. I realize that the more I talk, the more I like you!”
Never forget, everyone’s favorite topic is themselves. If you want to create an environment where you establish rapport have the prospect share with you exactly what you need to know to properly solve their business issues…shut up, you talk too much. Be a better listener!!