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Our audience forms a first impression of us in the first 6 seconds of meeting us.
As sales folks, we already have a bad rap so the last thing we want to do is confirm this.We may want to re-think “the gift of the gab” as a strength and ask ourselves why we immediately start talking about ourselves, our product, or our solution? Nothing turns our audience off more. Ultimately, we are confirming their initial thoughts.
People want to talk about themselves, this makes them happy, our job is to listen. If you are going to brag about something, brag about what a great listener you are. Then show them.As a sales coach, I often point out words, body language opportunities to mirror, ask to follow up with deeper questions, recap etc. as the sales rep has missed the opportunity.
When I dig deeper, they share that they are thinking of their next question, or what they are going to say once their prospect stops speaking.I know our minds move at what feels like a million miles an hour, however, if we want to connect with our audience and start building trust to eventually form a relationship this must stop. We are missing major opportunities to learn and act on what they are saying and connect with them. To do this we must stay present!
Think of it as doing a puzzle, sometimes all the pieces are there, just not in order, other times some are not turned over and often pieces are missing. How will we know to turn a piece over or look for a missing piece? by asking deeper questions, providing an example, or sharing a story to confirm understanding. Most times the pieces are in front of us, our job is to put them together. It becomes a lot easier when we quiet our minds, become present and focus on our audience.
Invite yourself to hang on to their last word, get curious as to why they are saying what they are saying and what is the underlying emotion? Typically, it is the questions under the question that we are trying to get at, if we are most concerned with our next question, we will undoubtedly not pick up on this. So, you may be thinking, OK, I do this sometimes, not all the time but sometimes. Well good for you for acknowledging this and having self-awareness, the first step. Now, what can you do to avoid it?
Force yourself to stay present, this applies in virtual or in F2F settings. Remove all technology around you, lean in and make eye contact. Show them you are listening, nod when you agree, this encourages them to keep going.
Summarize, what I heard is..., you can also practice mirroring and labelling to show them you heard them and encourage them to keep going. Using their language is important, it shows you heard everything they said. This will also invite them to add to the list if you have missed something or are lacking detail.
Ask questions throughout and sprinkle in questions that tie back into earlier statements they shared. Another reminder that throughout the conversation you have been taking mental notes and you are tying it back to their original thought, question or comment.
Buyers want to work with you, if they feel valued, heard and are part of the conversation they will do that. When we monopolize the conversation, it becomes a monologue and that is an easy way for your audience to check out.
The keyword is a conversation, two-way. Ask for feedback, check-in regularly to see if what you are asking, saying is helpful, useful, what are their thoughts about it. Get them to speak and become an active participant.
Start to understand what is important to them, when do they light up and lean in? These are all cues that will help you further along the buyer’s journey.
Being present focuses on what we are currently doing which is critical in conversations. It is equally important to be mindful “observe and be curious about what is going on inside of you”
When you feel something good or bad, lean into it, get curious where is this coming from. I encourage you to do the same with your audience.
Showing up in the most authentic way and in-service will drive meaningful conversations that are others-focused, a great way to get your audience leaning in and building connections.
What will you do today to start becoming a better listener? How will you turn down the noise in your head, so you are only hearing one song, that of your audience.
For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.
Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.