Elite sales professionals compete at a different level because they listen for different things than everyone else. Elite salespeople do not listen for what they want to hear. They listen for what they need to hear. Most sales professionals only hear what they want to hear. I get it – if you are selling, what you need to hear may not be what you want to hear.
Here’s why it’s almost sales innate to focus on what you “want.” You’ve worked hard and taken the risk to initiate the conversation with the prospect, so hearing how the prospect has pain, problems, and challenges justify your original persistence and ongoing effort. There’s an immediate gratification in this experience.
But here’s what differentiates an elite salesperson. The first level listening, the “want” to hear, is a signal that this might be worth your time, and there’s an opportunity to make a sale. The higher level skill is recognizing the “need” to hear; it is the understanding that the prospect has to work through his own obstacles, reasoning, and debate on making a change. So if you want to make the sale, this is where you should be investing your time and effort.
“Good” salespeople formulate and ask questions to further clarify what they want to hear and to determine how they will position their expertise and solution. They’re setting the stage to become the hero in their sales story. The challenge is that prospects can’t be the hero in your sales story, they need to be the hero in their change story. Elite salespeople understand this difference.
Look, I get it, for a small percentage of the prospects you sit down with – hearing what you want to hear works. It works because they’ve already decided that they are going to do something different before you enter the picture. Using your well-refined sales skills of building rapport, positioning your value, presenting, and objection handling, you can and will succeed within this small population of prospects.
However, what about the majority of prospects you end up in front of that probably need to make a change, but haven’t thought it through? This is where the elite shine, and why they sell more. This is where their pursuit to hear what they need to hear becomes the driver of change. When you hear what you need to hear, and follow up with skilled questioning, there’s no more keeping your fingers crossed hoping that you “showed” (presented) well.
- What are the questions that elite sales professionals ask?
- How do elite sales professionals handle objections?
- What’s the mindset of an elite sales professional?