The art of sales–and it is an art when practiced with skill–is far more about not talking. It’s about listening. But, not just listening. It’s about listening to understand. A salesperson’s best skill after listening to understand is asking questions to determine why and how the prospect wants to buy. If they didn’t want to buy, they wouldn’t be there; albeit, they may have put the cart before the horse.
As with so many of these grand life lessons they are not something that is learned and done. They are a practice. They are a practice because of our ever-present ego, and since there is no way of removing the ego, we can only control its attempts to lead, by our awareness that we are not our ego, and that our ego serves us as we allow it to serve.
The ego’s desire to be in charge, to be right, to be the winner turns a conversation into a test of who can win by talking and winning points. It wants the interaction, but it hates to lose, and I’ve been in many conversations like this, and I’ve also experienced my own ego leading conversations, and frankly, when they’re done, that’s when I know that I forgot to practice listening and that I allowed my ego to rant.
In sales, the best teachers teach that we listen and ask questions in order to find common ground, and as we find commonality, we can make a positive connection, which helps lead to comfort and trust. A little talk goes a long way. A lot of listening goes much further.
It is also very interesting, and even enlightening, to be in a conversation with someone who is a great listener and who knows how to draw us out. That feels great, doesn’t it? So imagine then how it feels when we are great listeners.