Saturday, January 21, 2012

Slow To Speak & Swift To Hear. Poor Listening Skills Will Kill Your Business

Years ago, I worked as a new and used car salesman.  I noticed very early on in my automotive sales career that there was one particular salesman who was producing double and triple the sales output of nearly every other salesman on the lot. Naturally, this peaked my curiosity, and I set out on a mission to find out what made this man so special, and how he was going about conducting his business.

I approached this salesman, and requested permission to shadow any future customer interactions.  I received his approval, and shortly thereafter, the two of us set out on a mission of earning and learning.

Later on that day, a middle-aged woman entered the dealership, and the man (who we'll refer to as Ted) informed me that it was game time. I was beyond eager to hear Ted's fancy pick-up lines. I wanted to listen in on guile and empty promises; which I assumed had to be the reasons for his success.

As I trailed closely behind 'Ted' I was literally stunned at what I observed. Ted was not selling this woman at all. He used no pick-up lines. There was no guile in his approach. In fact, Ted rarely spoke during this interaction.

Throughout the sales process, Ted presented one question after another, and after presenting each question, he became silent and listened as the customer provided answers.  By the time that we were done standing in the parking lot talking, for what seemed like close to an hour; Ted had finally settled upon two vehicles that matched each particular need expressed by his customer.

Ted walked the woman over to where these two vehicles were parked, and he then went through a brief presentation on each car, specifically making a point of only highlighting each of the features that the customer had identified as being important throughout his initial screening process.

The actual sales process was very short. In less than 30 minutes, Ted arranged for a test drive, negotiated a contract, and completed the sale. I was at a loss of words at the completion of this observation. However, I went away from this experience with the understanding that there were four steps that were vital for anyone with hopes of ever achieving success in the sales/marketing industry.

These steps were/are as follows:

  • Ask open ended questions that highlight the needs of customers.
  • Listen and take notes from each response.
  • Identify the products, and/or services that you have to offer that will meet each specified need
  • Present your findings to the customer                                             

Prior to this experience, I had one approach that I applied to every customer that I had ever interacted with on the lot. That approach was a quick greeting, followed by my leading the customer into the lot, and trying to convince him/her to purchase one of the vehicles that most appealed to me!

Ted's approach worked then, and Ted's approach still works today.  Regardless as to what your product, and/or service may be; slow down. Ask the right questions.  Allow your customers to share their goals and objectives, prior to going into all out sales mode, and chasing away potential business. LISTEN, and last; make a pinpointed presentation that addresses your ability to meet each need that has been specified by your customer.

Implementing these four steps into your sales process will dramatically reduce your stress levels.  This process will enable you to deal with less rejection, and you will also be able to control the sales process from start to finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment