Salespeople are courageous. They can talk to anyone. Salespeople have the gift of gab. They can talk about anything. The ability to initiate contact and make connections on a diverse set of topics is a highly valuable skill. Perhaps even an essential skill for a good salesperson. But this gift of gab is not enough if you want to be great.
Sales are made and/or persuasion occurs, when the sales professional is listening, not when she/he is talking. The great sales person knows how and when to listen. Just think about Griffin Hill’s sales process. It is six simple steps or routines: case open, needs audit, solution presentation, adapted solution presentation, closing interaction and fulfillment and follow-up. Good sales professionals are skilled at making connections in the case open routine. They are superb presenters making them effective at the solution presentation. Great sales people possess the same skills but they are also exceptional listeners. It is the listening skill that makes a professional stand out from the sales crowd and THAT is the domain of the needs audit.
In the needs audit, the prospects shares ideas, opinions and possibilities. A sales person skilled in the needs audit creates a guided discovery experience for his/her prospects. The prospect discovers needs, wants, issues and solutions. The process creates a desire–a hunger, for a solution yet to be offered.
Developing that kind of skill isn’t an accident or a quirk of nature. It takes work. It takes practice. It requires guidance from a skilled coach over time. As you work to develop better status quo and problem queries, consider some talk-time/listen time guidelines. In the case open the sales person will talk 90-95 percent of the time. During the needs audit however, the skilled professional will only talk 15-30 percent of the time, using talk time to guide the thought process of the prospect.
Listening doesn’t simply mean being quiet while someone else speaks. For the sales professional, listening includes being able to ask meaningful questions, seeking clarity about observations made by prospects and creating epiphanies of value in the process.
Some use the gift of gab to stand out. The very best know how to listen and learn. THEY are outstanding.