Listening and questioning

it's not about what you say, it's about what you ask

The importance of listening to your customer is beyond dispute. Listening and questioning. Listening is to “give attention with the ear” or to “attend closely for the purpose of hearing” and understanding what is being said.

Listening is a fairly passive activity and does not imply much action. We have all experienced it in our daily lives: what you have just said to someone is not followed by any action that indicates that he or she actually heard a thing. Our response tends to be an exasperated “Please listen for once!” or “Did you listen to a word I said?”

Sales discussions are often exactly the same. Questions are asked and the answers are listened to. Listening to the answers is just the beginning, however. It is about what you hear.

More active than “mere” listening, hearing is about actually finding out about something, gaining a genuine understanding of an issue, and absorbing advice, for example. In Sales, hearing is more important than listening. Listening is done with the ears, whereas hearing is done with the brain.

The answer to a question provides information that the Salesperson must assess in terms of intention and value. A good follow-up question (to obtain more information, for the purpose of summarizing or concluding, or to steer the discussion in a certain direction, for example) shows that you truly heard what the customer said. This interpersonal connection is essential to having the kind of discussion that can lead to results.

Therefore, after every Sales discussion, ask yourself whether you heard enough to successfully take the next step.

In this training course, we teach Salespeople how to ask the right questions; questions that guide the discussion, yield information, engage the customer, and bring us closer to success.

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