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The art of selling: first listen

26th August 2018 | Beverly Landais

Misunderstanding often surrounds the art of selling. Many of us have experienced poor selling techniques that range from aggressive pestering to clumsy pleas for our business. Even when the salesperson is charm personified, no one likes to feel pushed into something. Selling professional services is no different. Clients say they hate getting random approaches from people who have made no effort to understand their situation. Pet hates to include are receiving unfocused invites to this or that and generic marketing collateral. There's no surprise that many don't like the sales experience. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy just that they want to feel in control of their decision to purchase.  

What does ‘being in control’ mean?  Quite simply that the client has all the relevant information, is aware of their choices and feels comfortable that the professional they are dealing with really understands what is required - and can deliver on a promise. Above all, what clients want is a professional who does their research, listens to them and worked out their offer in a way that will create value for the client. 

In other words, the professional is performing all the elements of a trusted advisor before winning the work.  Once you begin to understand selling as an extension your skill set as a trusted advisor, you can start to get somewhere. After all the sign of a truly successful professional is that a client wants to deal with them again and again. Better still a delighted client is prepared to recommend them and their services to someone else. How is this any different from the super salesperson whose client asks for them by name for repeat or new purchases? 

There is a place for acquiring the nuts and bolts of presentation skills, how to create useful pitch material rather than boastful and so forth. However, the start point is to view the act of winning business through the eyes of the client. It means taking the time to learn about the client’s situation. Ask: what are their aspirations, challenges and motivations? Be disciplined by asking open questions and paying full attention to the answers. Listening to understand instead of using the time to think of what to say next. It means being strategic in approach and selective in whatever you put before the client. The focus always being on that which will solve their problem. 

Remember clients always have a choice. You will find a point of differentiation if you begin by gaining a better appreciation of their buying experience. Listen to learn. Then you can act by creating a proposition that benefits the client, and this is more likely to win you the work. 

26th August 2018 | Beverly Landais

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