We have all heard that in order to be a good salesperson we need to be a good listener and we need to ask questions, but what does that really mean? Research shows that in a typical sales call the salesperson talks 80% of the time. Hardly a balanced dialogue, a true conversation should look more like 50-50. Obviously there will be times when the type of meeting dictates that the sales person is doing the majority of the talking, perhaps during a presentation or product demonstration, but even then, the secret to success is to involve the customer, to engage them. The more the customer shares with you, the better placed you will be to understand their thinking to then be able to help address their concerns.
So consultative questioning then really is all about listening, listening carefully to really understand what the other person is saying and trying to determine what they are thinking.
Suggestions to help you become a better listener
Try to remain silent after you have asked a question, wait and give the customer time to think about their response. In general people don't like silence; we all tend to fill silence by talking more. If you take that little pause … you may find that the customer gives you more information. And having established that that is going to happen, in other words once they've done that once, try it once more - if they give you more information, again just pause a little to see if they volunteer more information.
2. Attentive listening skills
Attentive listening involves things like body language; think about your facial expression, your eye contact, your body movement and posture. When you're in a meeting and you’re listening to the customer, just slightly leaning forward will help show that you’re really listening. Take notes, and refer to the notes, that will help show the customer that you are listening and that you care about what they're saying. Aim to remain focused on the customer. Watch for their signals, watch for their body language. Try not to interrupt the customer and use your notes to summarize.
Finally, one of the best ways of showing the customer that you are really listening to what they were saying is to summarize the discussion.
In consultative selling listening is very important. Think about developing meetings with a customer that are more of a dialogue and less of a presentation. More questioning and listening and less ‘tell-sell’. Practice your listening skills, practice trying to pause and remain silent for a few seconds to get the customer to give you more information, and practice attentive listening, think about your body language and take notes.Try it and see!
What has worked well for you, maybe you have some other thoughts and suggestions?