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Do You Have Enough Confidence To Listen To Your Customer?

by David Brock on February 27th, 2013

I think too many sales people lack confidence!  Listen to them on sales calls, they’re constantly on the defensive or on edge.  They ask questions, listen selectively–usually hearing what they want to hear, often reacting defensively to something the customer might say.  They always rush to respond, sometimes interrupting the customer before they’ve completed what they have to say.  A customer may have an objection, a question stated poorly, a different point of view.  When stated, too many sales people immediately react and respond.

Some sales people make a mistake.  They think they are driving the discussion, “controlling the conversation,” moving the deal forward.  In reality they are just displaying their lack of confidence, possibly adversely impacting the perception of the customer.  How many times do we hear customers complain, “Sales people don’t really listen to me!”

Great sales people have the confidence to resist the temptation to immediately respond.  They know they don’t have to immediately correct a misimpression, to handle an objection, to be defensive about their solutions, companies, or value.

Great sales people have the confidence to listen.  They probe, they question.  They have the confidence to truly understand what the customer is saying before they respond.  They try to understand:  Why does the customer have the view they have expressed?  What’s causing the customer to respond in a certain way?  What shapes their attitudes and responses?  What values and beliefs may be shaping how they respond?  What are they really saying and why are they saying it?

Great sales people have the confidence to wait.  They know if they really listen to the customer and understand what they are saying, that they can respond in a way that will address the customer’s issues.

Great sales people have the confidence to really hear the customer.  They are expert and confident enough that they know they can handle any situation the customer might present.  They know they might have to say, “I’ll have to get back to you,”  or, “You know you are right, but have you considered…..” or, “Have you ever looked at things this way…..” or even, “Yes, we can’t do this, however…”

Great sales people know there is a difference between controlling and guiding the discussion to achieve certain outcomes.  They don’t try to control, but have aligned expectations with the customer and are guiding the conversation to meet those expectations, achieving the desired outcomes.

Great sales people have the courage and confidence to let go.

How confident are you?

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  1. Dave,

    your description is spot on. Wondering what could be the root cause for this lack of confidence, I came to the conclusion that it must have to do with the mindset of the salesperson. I think that sales people lacking confidence approach the client with the intention to close a deal, whereas great sales people approach the customer from a position of service and contribution i.e. helping the customer to find the optimal solution for his/her problem.

    • Christian, I’m not sure what the root cause might be, but I really like your approach with the mindset. This is critical and we really need sales managers and executives coaching and reinforcing this mindset.

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