Selling Is The Art of Listening

A couple of years ago, I went to a seminar and remember the guy on the stage talking about how the most successful people in the world, know little about selling, and it’s one of the most underdeveloped skills in the business world.

He clarified by saying that each one of us in the game of selling. It may not always be a product, but it could be an idea, a concept, a vision or getting someone to donate to a great cause.
He said that instead of selling, most people are really good at arguing. I had never thought about it that way and in that moment, it made me reflect on whether I knew how to sell, or whether in fact I was just a really good arguer.

Not only did I reflect on me, I started to listen to others attempt to sell, and here are three things I identified, that would back up what he said;

  • Many times as soon as a buyer indicates that he or she has a problem, the seller jumps to a conclusion they have the solution. This could be the truth, but funny, there are many times when there simply hasn’t been enough information exchanged. The seller doesn’t ask enough questions: why is it a problem? how long have you had it? what is it preventing you from doing?
  • The seller will make broad generalizations that someone should have a problem especially if they are in a specific industry or life situation. For example a seller determines that everyone in the construction industry has a problem with tracking employee time. The seller in talking to the potential buyer, will argue that they must have this problem and that this should be the most important thing they needing to address. In reality, neither could be true.
  • The sellers will focus on all the features and benefits of their product or solution instead of discussing how it will solve the problem. If I don’t believe I have a problem, then your solution, regardless of all the features and benefits, does nothing for me.

People and companies buy products and solutions in an attempt to solve a problem. Whether they know how to solve the problem themselves, they do have a concept of how that could be done. Instead of arguing for your solution, you will be far better served if instead you simply ask a whole lot more questions.

  • Understand how they see the problem.
  • Learn about how they think it should be solved.
  • Ask them what would happen if it isn’t solved.

Selling is more about understanding than anything else. Take the time to learn about your buyer and they will take the time to learn about you.