Some salespeople use a potential customer as an audience to try and impress with their product knowledge and what they believe to be their scintillating interpersonal skills.
They talk, and talk, and talk about their product pausing every now and then to appreciate the wisdom of what they have just uttered.
This 1-way deluge of information on an individual is a painful reminder that sales people have healthy egos and they love to be in the transmit mode much of the time.
Sales should be a relationship-building event which is impossible to conduct in the face of a sales monologue.
Salespeople need to be terrific listeners; asking the right questions to expose the needs and more importantly the secrets of their prospective buyer.
It really doesn’t matter what the sales agenda is; the objective is to ask questions, listen and learn in order to come up with the best solution possible.
Here’s how to create a sales listening team:
- recruit people with a background of listening achievement. You can always train them on product knowledge; look for those who listen innately.
- train them with listening skills. You can’t hold them accountable for listening if you don’t teach them how you want it done.
- build listening into their performance management plan. If listening is not part of how you want the job done, it won’t happen.
- pay for listening in their compensation plan. Make listening a healthy part of their bonus pay. Start at 40% and increase it every year.
- measure listening performance and engage the customer in the process. Create a “listening report card” with 6 key behaviours you want sales to consistently demonstrate with customers.
Have the customer complete the report card to rate their salesperson’s performance.
- measure sales listening performance monthly. Review results with each salesperson. Develop an action plan to address shortfalls.
- honour the brilliant listeners. Shout out those who do it well and who receive accolades from their customers. This tells the organization that listening matters and gives others a picture of how it is done.
- establish an annual sales listening award to honor those who listening consistently.
Have a go at it and reap the rewards.