How good would you say you are at listening to your prospect?

Most salespeople we talk to rate themselves pretty highly in this area. Yet most, sad to say, fail.

By Rob Swette, Managing Partner, Sales Growth Associates | Sandler Training

When a prospect says something that you know, as a result of personal experience and/or your product and service training, to be factually incorrect how do you respond? Do you instantly correct the prospect? Do you look for a chance to give a long monologue that shows how smart you are for knowing the “right answer”?

David Sandler taught us that the only reliable way to move forward through the sales process is to make sure that the prospect feels OK at all times. There’s a very simple reason for this. If the prospect ever doesn’t feel OK, we can count on the prospect doing whatever is necessary to remove the source of that no-OK feeling. All too often, that’s the salesperson who corrects a prospect’s mistake a misstatement.

So let’s take it as a given that you know more than the prospect does in your area of expertise. That’s wonderful. There’s a time and a place to share the relevant product knowledge – but it’s certainly not at the very beginning of the relationship, which is where most salespeople manage to fail the test. Instead of correcting every error your hear, treat your new prospect’s assumptions the same way you would treat a beaming six-year-old child who believes the tooth fairy is real! There’s plenty of time for solutions later. For now, experiment with responses like this:
• That’s an interesting insight.
• What do you think caused that?
• A lot of your counterparts had similar perceptions and experiences. Can I share what happened there?

These kinds of responses will allow you to transition more comfortably into a discussion where you can add information and value. They are far more preferable than telling the prospect “you’re wrong.”

Stand out from the crowd and ask your next prospect questions whenever you are tempted to correct an error or set the record straight. You will step out of the spotlight, keep the prospect OK – and keep the lines of communication open.

Rob Swette is Managing Partner of Sales Growth Associates | Sandler Training in Carlsbad
(760) 579-7316 | sga.sandler.com

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