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Saturday, October 2, 2010

How Listening Affects Your Sales Cycle

The question has often been raised, "How well do we listen to our prospects?" The answers are sometimes astounding! There are some salespeople who become frustrated that they're not closing enough deals, and they get discouraged. They look back on the entire encounter, and need some help understanding why it fell through. They cold called, set up that initial meeting with their prospect, and described their product in full. All the while, they asked the questions that they felt would be important to the prospect, and got some great answers, maybe even a little encouragement.

The prospect seemed to respond well to their presentation, and everything seemed promising. Then, they followed up, and set up another meeting with them to discuss signing the contract for the lease to use their company's product for, let's say, four years. Okay, then they started to hesitate. They raised objections to the lease agreement, and the salesperson felt they had helped the prospect to understand that their product was the perfect fit for their business. Then, they suddenly backed out of the deal! What happened? The salesperson didn't listen to his prospect as well as he thought. He needed to understand that a great sales presentation isn't all about pointing out the great features your product has to offer. It's also not all about YOUR presentation! It's about giving the prospect a platform to let you get to know them, and their business. It's about giving them room to ask serious questions, and for you to be able to deliver honest and accurate answers to those questions. It's about listening to your prospect's concerns, and NOT talking over them to get your point across!  YOUR point is not important. Your potential client's point isn't just important! It's everything!

The most important aspects of the sales cycle are:
1) Gaining your potential client's trust
2) Making your potential client feel that you are listening and responding to their unique business needs.
3) Gaining the good favor of your potential client by giving substantiated evidence that what your presenting is genuine, and that your product or service is worth the investment of their time and money.
4) Making the prospect feel comfortable doing business with you, not expecting your prospect to make YOU feel comfortable with them! Again, it's not about you! It's about putting your prospect at ease.
5) Understanding that the prospect has some legitimate concerns, and knowing how to address those concerns accurately and professionally.
6) Possibly giving the prospect a little breathing room, and time to think about everything before making a decision.
7) Following up with your prospect as many times as is necessary to put them at ease about buying/leasing your product or service.
8) Did I mention listening to your prospect?
9) Gaining referrals by doing ethical business with your prospect.
10) Hopefully closing the deal, and making that prospect into a client.

Okay, I know I put gaining your prospect's trust at the top, and I think number one should have two parts, A and B. And those two parts are: 1A) gaining the prospect's trust, and 1B) listening to the prospect.
These two factors go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other, because one hand doesn't clap!

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