Ever get the feeling that nobody’s listening to you, that maybe you’ve even become invisible? Start a story and people just look over your shoulder at something more important, or the ultimate – just walk away as if you’re not even talking?
Businesses face the same kind of problem. Very good prospects continually ignore their TV ads, billboards, print ads, even their aggressive sales staff and telemarketers. Really?
Now why do you suppose people would ignore a perfectly good sales pitch?
For one thing, we’re bombarded with ads every day and our overstuffed brains can only process and retain so much. But there’s an even bigger reason. Company owners, presidents and marketing directors, as well as employees on the front line – sales people, retail clerks, and customer service reps continually violate one of the cardinal rules of selling.
LISTEN FIRST, THEN TALK!
Here’s the problem. Customers aren’t listening because you’re not listening to them first. Forget about what you want to tell them. Listen to them and then address their wants and concerns.
It’s simple advice, but often so hard to follow when you’re on the selling side. So… put yourself on the buying side. Look at what you’re doing through your customers’ eyes and you’ll see much clearer.
The same is true in our personal conversations. Listen first, then talk. People will find you to be so much more interesting.
My wife and I recently went shopping for a car. She’s actually a very good negotiator so I just sat in the backseat and let her deal with the salespeople.
That proved to be very interesting. I found that the salesmen could clearly be divided into two groups.
- Those who didn’t listen to her. On the first test drive, the salesman started running down a list of features and their benefits. At one point, my wife said, “We don’t want that feature,” and the salesman kept on extolling the benefits of this wonderful feature as if my wife had said nothing.
- And those who did. On the next drive, with a different salesman, he mentioned the same feature, and my wife responded the same way, “We don’t want that feature.” Honestly, I had to laugh when he jumped to the next feature… without even taking a breath. Didn’t miss a beat. I was impressed.
Of course, we ended up buying our car from the lot that listened, even though we didn’t particularly even like the salesman. He listened and he gave us what we wanted.
In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re never going to make a lot of genuine friends on a car lot. Lots of smiles, handshakes and back slapping – but seriously, no great friendships are forged on that battleground.