In recent blogs, we’ve talked about the necessity in today’s sales world of insight selling; of providing valuable insight to the prospect company. But there is one step in insight selling that cannot be overstressed: in order to provide the right insight, you need to listen.
If you ever watch an expert salesperson in action, one of his or her most-used sales techniques is that of listening. While it may be tempting to jump right in with your pitch—which may even be a proven pitch with other prospects—how are you going to know that pitch is going to work with this prospect? Are you absolutely certain the prospect company you’re now talking to has the exact same issues as the last one you encountered?
Everyone is Different
Even within the same industry, every company is different. This is true if only because they have different people working there, with differing desires, needs, and drives. While broad issues may exist industry-wide, they will never exist in the exact same way company to company. And even if they do, they will often be stated and understood differently.
For example, years ago a very common problem with computers in businesses was the speed of system performance. But in surveying a broad cross-section of companies, this problem was stated in a myriad of ways with an endless variety of ramifications. Some would say, “need faster database retrieval” while others would say, “backups are horrendously slow.” When all put together they equaled “need faster system performance” as a concept, but using that exact wording in speaking to companies would often fail. Sales reps selling products that sped up system performance would only succeed when they addressed a company’s specific problems.
Even if you are certain you already know what a company is encountering as a problem, take the time to ask them, and give them the opportunity to answer. If you were right, nothing has been lost. If you were wrong or slightly off, you will certainly have made the right move.
Why else is Listening Important?
There is another important reason to listen: It shows your prospect that you’re interested in helping them, not just selling a product. If you think back to times when you yourself were the recipient of a sales pitch, you might find that in some of them you felt like you were being “talked at” rather than “talked to.” Would you have felt differently if the salesperson had actually taken a bit of time to get to know your concerns and interests and specifically why you might be interested in their product or service? How would you have felt about their sales techniques in this example?
Listening to a person makes them realize that their concerns and interests have some importance to you—what they think and want matters, you’re not just there to close a sale without regard for them. This is true of a group (a company) as well as an individual.
Practice makes Perfect Insight Selling
Some sales courses and sales training procedures offer advice on learning to listen as part of the sales techniques they are teaching, addressing the reasons you might have for talking instead of listening. When you come right down to it, diving in to find out all about those reasons doesn’t matter; what does matter is that you learn to listen.
Listening isn’t just sitting there and nodding (or, on the phone, saying “uh-huh” every few sentences). It is actually hearing and understanding what the person is saying. Practice with a friend. Just ask questions and listen to and understand the answers.
Save the Results of Your Listening
As you are listening, you are gathering vital information about your target company. Make sure you have a rapid, easy method that enables you to save that data and recall them at any time—which of course means a flexible, intuitive CRM solution. Equally as important is the facility to quickly locate and retrieve data you have saved, which means the CRM application should be logically deployed in a reflection of your company’s sales process.
All the best sales techniques include this one crucial step: listen. Employ it, and you will notice a considerable difference in your sales results.
If your CRM solution doesn’t make it easy to save and retrieve vital information about sales cycles, sign up for one of our free webinars and find out about one that does.