“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking’. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.”
- Roy Bartell
If you’re meeting with a prospect and you want to put your best foot forward, you have to not only ask the right questions, but also listen carefully to what you’re hearing in response. You may discern details that you can use to tailor your future conversations or proposals so that they truly resonate with their needs and desires.
You should limit the amount of closed questions you use – these are questions that elicit a “yes” or “no” response. They’re generally used for testing understanding or knowledge, concluding a discussion, or making a decision. They’re good for setting the frame for open questions – or probing questions – that you’ll use to find out more detail. The responses to these open questions may very well reveal the information you need to make a compelling case for change.
When speaking with your prospect, listen for words they choose to repeat. There are three reasons such repetition matters. First, the word(s) that the prospect is repeating may provide insight into why they have not moved forward already. Second, those words may hold a clue as to whether your prospect is more visual, auditory or kinesthetics – valuable intel you can use to tune your own spoken and written words to be on a similar frequency. Third, if someone uses a favorite word or phrase repetitively, you might consider slipping that exact word or phrase into your half of the dialogue. This type of verbal mirroring helps build rapport, a vital factor in setting the stage for agreement.