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Stop Pitching, Start Listening To Your Customers

by David Brock on January 14th, 2009
Last week, I wrote a post “Stop Assuming Your Know Your Customers, Start Listening To Them! The post stimulated a lot of comments on the different sites it was posted on. Thanks to each of you who took the time to offer your great ideas!

In that post, I ranted about the focus sales and marketing professionals seem to have on “Pitching,” arguing we need to stop pitching and start engaging our customers in conversations.

I’m back on my soapbox, I read a post from someone I hold in high regard, but he set me off. The post was entitled, “How Persuasive Is Your Pitch.” We all fall victim to it, we spend too much time focusing on the pitch and not having an effective conversation to engage our customers in solving their problems.

I did a quick, very unscientific experiment. I googled “sales pitch” and got 1,900,000 hits. I then tried various queries on listening to customers (“sales listening, effective listening for sales, etc.) I finally settled on the query “effective listening” only because it showed the highest numeric result. I didn’t limit it to sales. I got 202,000 hits — a little more than 10% of the hits on talking.

I think the results are an interesting reflection of the behavior I see too often in business, particularly with sales and marketing. We all spend too much time talking and too little time listening. Asking good questions and actively listening is the first critical step in engaging customers in meaningful conversations.

We cannot demonstrate or produce value for customers until we engage them in meaningful conversations about their business — and meaningful conversations–not pitches—about the value of our solutions to their businesses.

To the sales/marketing consultants and guru’s, I appreciate the need for helping people improve the effectiveness of their presentation skills or their pitches, but let’s start building the skills and capabilities of professionals in listening and engaging customers in powerful — even “fierce” conversations.

To sales and marketing executives, make sure your people are spending at least as much time in listening and having meaningful conversations with customers. Measure them on their questions/comments(talking) ratio. Get it to at least one, strive to get it to be greater than 1.

Sales and marketing professionals, raise the value you bring to your customers, improve the results you produce by pitching less, questioning and listening more.

How do you make certain you are engaging your customers in a conversation? Let’s share experience and tips so we can all improve.

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3 Comments
  1. unrivalled consulting permalink

    Love it!!

    The Google stats to back this up are fantastic – a tool I will be using when I delivering a similar message.

    How persuasive is your pitch? It's NOT persuasive unless it has the clients situation contained in it.

    But how do I know about their situation? QUESTION, LISTEN, DON'T SAY THAT THING YOU WERE ABOUT TO SAY – ASK ANOTHER QUESTION, LISTEN. Repeat ad infinitum!!

    The best sales pitch I made took 40 secs. I got instant buy-in….

    …I'd just listened to him talking about HIS product for 2 hours.

    🙂

  2. Steve Ammann permalink

    Great post. Listen more. Talk less. Ask really good questions.

    • Thanks Steve–It’s so simple that it makes you wonder why so few execute it! It’s great to see you commenting here. Look forward to future comments.

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