We once interviewed a person for a sales position within our company. We asked what he felt was the most important skills required in sales and how he would rate himself in those skills.
He said that ‘product knowledge’ was top of his list, because the more knowledge he had of our services, the more he could talk to the prospect about them. I’m sure he used the term ‘blind them with science’ more than once! Needless to say, we didn’t hire him.
Thank goodness times have changed! These days, it’s not what you know, but how your knowledge can help the prospect that is high on the list.
Why would listening to a prospect (and by its very inference, being silent) be so difficult to do and yet gain you more sales?
Listening (the Golden Silence bit) is hard for us because it takes effort to concentrate and focus on something else other than what’s going on in our heads. We have this incessant chatter or ‘self-talk’ that becomes louder in our minds than the other person.
We are weighing up options, judging what would be right or wrong, determining our next steps, recalling how other prospects had had the same problems, and a myriad of other things while the person is talking.
This is not the golden silence I was referring to.
I’m referring to quieting the chatter and really concentrating on what is being said.
Some ways you can do this are:
• Drop the self-talk as much as possible
• Become aware of the meaning behind the words they are using
• Use your eyes to listen
• Observe their body language
• Watch their eye movements
• Ascertain if you really are understanding the points they are making
• If you are making notes, try to give as much eye-contact as possible
The point of this is to allow your mind to listen at a deeper level. Surface listening will only trap you, because you will think you’ve understood the points they are making, but you risk jumping ahead in your mind, making up conclusions that turn out to be incorrect.
If there is anything that is possibly vague or unclear in its meaning, make a note to ask deeper questions. For example, if they say, ‘We are experiencing some difficulties with the IT processes at the moment’, some of the questions that could come to mind are:
“When you say ‘difficulties’, could you expand?”
“How long have these difficulties been going on?”
“What have these difficulties been costing you?
“What processes specifically are causing the difficulties?”
“What do you feel needs to happen to overcome them?”
These are just a few of the questions that come out of that one prospect sentence. I’m sure you can think of many more. But you would only be able to think of these questions if you had been listening deeply and had experienced the ‘golden silence’ in your mind.
After you have listened effectively, it gives you the chance to consolidate all the information you have gleaned from the discussions and then work on presenting solutions based on that background.
Remember, silence means you are not talking out loud; golden silence means you are quiet because you are listening, focussing and concentrating on what the hidden-depth meaning is behind what the prospect is saying. Apply golden silence more frequently to determine how you can be even more helpful to your prospects.
Learn more by attending one of our Sales Training Courses.