Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shut up and Listen!

I remember the day I realized that I'd lost a deal that represented about $6000 in commissions. I was torn up, devastated, confused. Of course, it wasn't my fault. Clearly, the prospect was at fault because they didn't understand my pitch. They didn't realize my value proposition.

Upon further reflection, however, my understanding of the event evolved. I began to blame myself. However, I blamed myself for using too much jargon, for over-explaining, for confusing the prospect with language and overloading them with information. This too was wrong thinking.

The truth is, I didn't spend enough time listening to what was important to the prospect. In my eagerness to show how smart and useful I was, I ended up selling solutions that the prospect hadn't asked for. This is where I really took a wrong turn.

See, the prospect meets with you because they want to buy. They want to give you a chance. BUT - the onus is on YOU to spend some time finding out about the prospect. Who are they? What is important to them? What do they expect of you? Spend some time trying to gain an understanding of the problem that they're trying to solve. Then, and only then, can you truly begin to speak about things they want to hear about.

Listen, the fact of the matter is that they really want to buy. All you have to do is help them. But how can you help them if you don't really know what it is they're after? How can you fix a problem when you don't have a solid understanding of what that problem is, and how it affects the prospect?

Ask questions, and then shut up. Listen to the prospect. Encourage them to talk. Try to understand why they're there with you in the first place. If all else fails, and you're unable to get to the crux of the issue, don't sweat it. Spend some time relationship building, get to know them, and try again another day. Remember, relationship is everything. And they don't really care how much you know. They only want to know how much you care. Once they trust you, everything will work out just fine.

So relax. Think up some great questions, and then sit back, listen, and get to know your prospect a little better.

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