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Are You Even Listening?

Five Ways Not To Screw Up Your Next Sales Meeting.

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by Ant Henderson in Sales, Strategy

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sales calls and meetings can be as equally nerve-wracking as they are exciting.

But in the heat of the moment, business owners often lose their heads, and the sale, in minutes.  

At the first opportunity they get to speak, they unleash sales hell on their prospective buyer.

Feature after benefit after pitch deck slide, they can’t help themselves from spilling all.

The problem is, the buyer has heard it all before.

The person in front of them might be the fourth company they’ve had in, and you reach for your laptop or brochure, regurgitating the same spiel as everyone else.

The buyer has stopped listening and is contemplating what to have for lunch.

Why does this happen, time and again? Because buyers and sellers start on an entirely different wavelength and at opposite ends of the spectrum.

No matter what the purchasing decision, the buyer starts with EMOTION.

Yes, even if they’re looking for a new freelance web developer or even a cleaner.  

They’re looking for a company that they like the look and feel of, that gives them the right vibe and that they trust.

Just as important is the person sat in front of them – You.

Crucially: Do they like you?

Do you ask all the right questions, get to the heart of their problem, and offer the right solution at the right value?

Of course, they won’t tell you all this.  

You walk in the room or pick up the phone, and they hit you with:

“I don’t have much time so, tell me what you’ve got and your rates.”

What do you do?  

PANIC – and immediately engage “pitch mode”.

Your brain goes into overdrive. The adrenaline floods your system, and you start rolling out the same presentation that the buyer has heard three times already, and they’re BORED.

I’ve done it. We’ve all done it.

You let your own emotions get in the way, and you kill the probability of you selling anything.

The buyer is buying on emotion, and you’re smashing them with facts, figures, and technical features – how is that likely to end up?

Read on for five steps to help you not screw up your next sales meeting and walk out the door or hang up the phone, wondering what the hell happened.

1) BREATHE

Yeah, it sounds a bit woo-woo, but give your brain a second to process what it had thrown at it. 

A few breaths and a chance to settle your emotions will give you the time to set yourself and stop you from jumping straight into pitch mode.

2) KNOCK IT BACK

Right now, you’re not in control.  

The buyer has tried to take control by throwing a jab and startling you.

Take back control of the conversation by opening with a question:

“I don’t want to launch into a pitch that’s not relevant. I’d like to ask some questions about you and your business to be sure that I give you the right detail for your situation, is it OK that we start there?”

The last three pitches bored them to death, so this will likely be a welcome change, and you’ve regained control of the conversation.

Another option is to call them out on not having enough time.

Ask them if you still have the time that you agreed for the meeting and, if not, can you re-schedule as you need that time to understand their business thoroughly. They’ll likely acquiesce and invite you to keep going, but if they don’t have the time you need, re-schedule the meeting. 

Do it there and then – Do not leave it until after the meeting or you might never hear from them again, nobody wants to be ghosted.

3) BE PREPARED

I can go on about this for hours, but preparation is key to any successful sales call or meeting.

You should be going into that situation armed with as much information as possible.

The more prepared you are, the more chance you have of asking the right questions to unlock the reasons for the buyer to be making their purchase in the first place.

Ignore your assumptions, get to the heart of your buyer’s real reasons for buying, and there’s a much greater chance of getting the buyer onside, and them buying from you.

4) LISTEN

Do you really listen?

When we’re selling, we often listen for clues and keywords to help us join the dots and spill another feature or benefit that fixes a buyer’s problem.  

It can also lead to us jumping in, finishing their sentences, and leaving them feeling interrupted and undermined.

“Listen to understand, not to reply.”

Don’t let your emotions and excitement derail an opportunity and make a buyer put up their defences.

Listening is a learned skill. It’s not easy and requires practice.  

So, practice!  

The next time your partner, friend, or family member is talking to you about something – commit to it 100%. Listen with absolute intent and see what response you get (you should be pleasantly surprised).

5) IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU; IT’S ABOUT THEM

If you’re doing most of the talking, you’re doing it wrong.

Ask questions — Let them talk — Be attentive. Get the buyer to like you, and they’ll tell you everything that you want to know.

You’re not there to make friends – that’s another blog post for another time – you’re there to gain the trust and respect of a buyer. Put the focus on them, not directing the focus on what you have to offer.

Humans are complex and emotional creatures. We can overcomplicate selling unnecessarily, but to sell effectively, you need to get in the mind of the person in front of or on the other end of the phone as you.

Have you experienced this?

How often do you pitch and walk away learning nothing about your prospect? And more importantly, not sell anything?

For many business owners, shifting focus from what they have to offer and listening to what the customer is looking for will bring big rewards.

Would you like to improve your chances of selling your product or service without boring your prospect to death in the first place?

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