You would think that being 63 I would have remembered that one of the most important elements in sales is knowing EXACTLY what the prospect means by their words! Good Lord, how many times do I need to be reminded?
I attended a seminar on Leadership for the 21st Century yesterday sponsored by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. http://www.ajg.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&mode=2&objID=5126. (This was through the Minneapolis branch of AJG.)
The presenter paired us up for the “dreaded” exercise, which as it turned out made the bulb go off in Schaber’s head. One of the elements of good listening (which leaders have) is paraphrasing what you hear an individual say. And this technique applies to every situation where one person talks and one person listens. And let’s face it, listening is tricky business. I have written this before but it is worth mentioning again-what a person says is not necessarily understood by the person listening. The assumption is that the listener understands but that is not always the case.
This applies so perfectly to sales. The prospect states an issue or problem and what do so many salespeople think? Because they want to be the hero and close the sale they are already thinking of a solution. As soon as the prospect stops talking the salesperson presents the perfect solution. And so often the prospect presents the salesperson with that deadpan look that signifies “how is that going to help me”? Sayonara to the sale.
The answer to this is so simple that most of us forget it. Before you assume that you know what the prospect said paraphrase what you heard so the prospect can confirm that you heard right. There are no statistics kept on this but I will bet my declining IRA that at least 30% of the time we do not completely understand what prospects mean by their statements of need.
The cure for the “I want to be a hero complex” is simple. After you have heard the prospect explain a situation say something like, “let’s see if I understand the situation” and then paraphrase what you heard. Or you could say something like “what I heard you say” and then paraphrase.
As a general rule of thumb women do this better than men. And men, if you ever hear your wife state a problem or an issue don’t solve it immediately. Crank up the dialogue knob.
As a general rule of thumb women listen to understand. Men tend to hear in order to solve.
The Final Thought: “When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes” Victor Hugo