Thursday, 8 June
Today's Topic
Listening

Skill

Being stuck in performance mode can inhibit your listening competencies as a seller. Stop pitching so much, you’ll hear more. Try what it feels like getting stuck in listening mode.

So how’d the listening go yesterday? Were you more locked in? Good for you! (Or at least you tried!)

The ultimate form of respect and empathy for your buyers comes when you use those funky-looking globs on either side of your head. Unfortunately, they’re like five-lane highways that pour right into your brain. That means you must work hard to hear what you need to hear.

Tactics like the 75%/25% listening formula can help, too: listen 75% of the time, and the chances are high that you’ll learn deep insights about your customer’s goals, values, and challenges. If that sounds appealing, maybe you should try talking 25% of the time!

The noise of the day competes with our ability to listen. Those five-lane highways from our ears to our brains create the same congestion you’ll find in mid-town Manhattan on a Friday afternoon.

What goes into your ears competes with many other inputs, and we’re just not built to shift gears quickly. Negotiations expert Chris Voss says, “We can process only about seven pieces of information in our conscious mind at any moment. In other words, we are easily overwhelmed.”

The TOP 10% are those who understand how to avoid performance mode and get into listening mode when meeting with customers. Performance mode is delivering a 34-slide deck from beginning to end. Maybe breathing along the way, maybe not. Just because your marketing team built the presentation for you and your peers doesn’t mean you must deliver it linearly. Unless you’re presenting to scores of buyers in a formal, assembly-hall-type setting, ignore the pull toward performance mode and get yourself into conversation mode. Only when you’re in conversation mode can you start to show off your impressive listening skills.

Conversation mode, a.k.a. consultative selling, requires listening, not pitching. (Not performing.) The main path towards a successful shift from performance mode to conversation mode is to do your homework and develop strategic questions that can open the mouths and thoughts of your customers. Listening is an acquired skill, and you can start to get better at it by remembering one of the golden rules in sales: buyers want to be heard.

Do

If you’re working on listening better in your pitch meetings with prospects, try repeating a mantra before the meeting to focus your attention. Try this one, "My mind is open, and my ears are too."

Today, clear your mind before starting your pitch meetings with customers.

No, this is not like meditating; this is a simple exercise that will make you more present for your customers. Before entering your prospect’s office (or opening the Zoom room), take a deep breath and clear your mind. Temporarily park all of the day’s accumulated experiences and thoughts into a corner of your brain. (You’ll let them run free after the customer meeting.)

Visually imagine that you’re escorting your non-meeting thoughts into a room. Assure them there are snacks and that you’ll return shortly. Cap the whole vision by saying to yourself, "My mind is open, and my ears are open too."

Over the last two days, you have been introduced to specific action items designed to help your listening. You’ve developed and started using a trigger word, cleared your mind before meetings by parking your distracting thoughts, and learned to use a mantra, like "My mind is open, and my ears are too!"

Using one and/or all of these recommendations will help you improve your listening. But as you can see from these recommendations, there is no binary solution to improve listening. You must experiment with various tricks and habits that will work for you. The key is to try something!

There’s one more fun DO you can try. Crack data scientists at Carnegie Mellon suggest it works 1.37% of the time, but you might be one of the lucky ones. Here goes: with every customer interaction you have today, whether over video or face-to-face, imagine you have to pay $1 for every word you speak in that meeting. And the dollars you use will be deducted from your potential commission earnings on that business. Of course, you’re not gonna calculate the math, it’s just a silly little thought that forces you to be quiet and listen more than you speak. Will it help you with listening comprehension? Dunno. But it might help you slow down and talk less.

Tomorrow - June 20

"Buyer, I object to your stupid objection."

Today - June 19

Didn't we JUST have a weekly sales meeting last week???

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June 18

Q2 account reviews that make your mgr smile.

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June 17

Whadya mean, you're not killing it right now?

Read More

"Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking." –Bernard Baruch

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