Sales Success Requires Listening, Not Telling

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Jul 17

Despite sales training by generations of traditional sales trainers who emphasize the importance of a good presentation, sales success requires listening, not telling. Think about it. It’s really the old Golden Rule at work. Do you really care how good somebody’s product is before you know that the salesperson has truly heard and understood your situation and your needs? You want a solution, not a product.

Sales Success Requires Listening, Not Telling picture

Sales Success Requires Listening, Not Telling

Rushing to Start Telling Your Story Can Cost You a Sale

While some people are technology buffs and really care about specs (specifications), most people only care about a product or service’s ability to solve what they want. If you rush into your presentation before you deeply understand what they want and what their situation is, you risk presenting the wrong solution. More importantly, by failing to truly serve them and their wants and needs, you risk never getting back in to see them again.

People hate wasting their time. And one of the biggest time wasters to most small business owners and managers is having salespeople trying to force something on them before the reps truly understand what the business situation is.

On the other hand, people love having advisors who care about their wants and needs and serve them first. Small business people understand you are there to make a sale. But when you develop the relationship by caring about them, you will have a repeat customer.

This is where it gets complicated. There are two major sets of wants and needs involve that you need to understand.

First is that of the business.

  • What is the situation?
  • What do they want to accomplish?
  • Is there something else that has a much higher priority preventing their really caring about the solution you can provide?

Second is the wants of the decision makers. By the way, there is rarely only one decision maker, even in a small business.

  • Is the spouse a silent partner, or not so silent, partner?
  • Is there a manager or supervisor who will have to implement your solution?
  • What is personally most important to them?
  • What attitudes do they have that will stand between you and your ability to help their business?

The way to handle this is to ask a question, then really listen to the answer. One of the most common problems traditionally trained salespeople have is asking a question so they can make their presentation or close. With this attitude, they rarely hear what was really said. More importantly, they don’t hear what wasn’t said.

Listening is an Active Task

Listening well is a skill and takes effort. You have to be focused on understanding what is being said rather than waiting for a break to say what you want to say. Train yourself to ask, “What does that mean to him?” For instance, what is a sub? Is it a sandwich or an underwater boat? As simple as this example is, there are far more subtle differences in words. Some are due to the specific industry your prospect is in.

Even when you ask a question and feel sure you heard what she meant, follow up on any hint in her answer that indicates there is more that she hasn’t said. These types of answers provide the golden opportunities to really understand that leads to sales success. Only when your confirm you know what your prospect wants do you start telling about your products and services. Because then you can be sure that the solution you present truly serves your prospect.

Sales success requires listening, not telling. Start telling too soon and you may find that you are out the door without any chance of getting in to see your prospect again. Practice listening for what is said and what isn’t said. Then follow up on hints that there is more. Ask a question until you really understand. You will find not only sales success; you’ll also develop a strong relationship with your customer, which leads to long term sales opportunities.

Building your profits through strong relationships,


John R. Aberle

Go to to sign up for the ecourse, “9 Steps to Finding Prospects Who Want What You Provide,” my gift to you for opting in.

Other articles related to this post

Enhanced by Zemanta

About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.