Sales listening is patient listening. Don’t anxiously wait for an opportunity to jump in and solve all the customer’s problems right away. After I ask a question I shut up and allow my prospect to speak. Sometimes I wait for several minutes. Most salespeople can’t stand a pause in the conversation. Take a deep breath, relax, and listen. Some prospects want to be listened to more than they want their problems solved. People love to talk about themselves, their jobs, and their companies; encourage them to do so.
Transportation salespeople who have been in our industry for a long time should re-visit how they qualify and maintain accounts. It’s easy to start believing that you have all the answers, but you never know what changes may have happened since your last call.
Never waste the prospect’s time. There will come a point when the customer is ready to move past the small talk, and it’s usually quicker than you might think. Everyone is short on time these days and most traffic managers, purchasing managers, and other decision-makers will appreciate you getting to the point. You can do this tactfully without jeopardizing the emerging relationship.
First, give the prospect a reason he or she should answer your questions and ask for permission to proceed. The prospect always expects to answer questions and will give this permission. When you move on to the questions, make sure you are actively listening and not just mentally preparing for the next thing you are going to say.
Take notes! Taking notes can be one of your most powerful sales tools as it will reinforce the reason you made the appointment in the first place: to learn more about the prospect and their company’s needs.
Taking notes also helps you listen. There’s something about holding an empty notepad in front of you that makes you pay better attention to what is being said and makes it more difficult to miss important points.
Taking notes puts you in a position of authority. It encourages the prospect to open up and generally sends strong positive signals to them. It says, “I’m listening to you and I won’t forget.”
Be sure to pay attention to the fine line between asking questions and making the prospect feel that they are being cross-examined. Be natural and at ease to create a comfortable two-way conversation.
Listen, Learn, and Earn.