Sales Process – Discovery Stage Part 2

In the last post, I talked about how important it is to ask questions.  You ask questions to learn more about your prospect and to try to understand how decisions are made.  Every prospect is a little different with their engagement.  In general, the more you ask questions then the more value you can bring in the presentation or demo stage of the sales process.  More to come on that stage of the sales process in a later post.  Let’s talk about listening as a part of this stage of the sales process.

The 2nd part to the discovery stage is to LISTEN to what they’re saying.

Listening

You could ask all the right questions and even have the best product/service on the market but if you’re not listening to what the prospect is saying then you’ll miss all the critical components.  As a result, you’ll end up with a less than satisfying commission checks at the end of each month.  A good sales person talks 20-30% of the time and listens 70-80% of the time.  After you hang up, it should feel like you didn’t talk that much.  Let me clarify though.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about who you are and what you do.  It simply means, the prospect should do most of the talking.  You’re asking questions to learn about them.  With the right planning, you can control how the conversation flows.

I prefer to write notes down from the call with a pen and paper.  It forces your brain to really listen to what’s being said.  You can enter the notes onto the computer or you’re CRM to keep track of it all after the call has ended. It’s also helpful to pause for a full 1-2 seconds before speaking or asking your next question.  You want to make sure they’re finished with their thought.  Often times we get super excited and want to move on to the next question. We just end up interrupting the other person, which is just another way to lose the sale.  Try to count in your head one-one thousand, two-one thousand then speak.  Most people don’t like silence so they try to fill it.  And most of the time, if you let the prospect keep talking they will give you more than you expected.

Listening Tip

It’s helpful if you repeat some of the things you just heard to show the other person that you were listening.  It’ll be a good transition to either your next question or a way for you to dig further into what they just told you.  Plus you can ask additional questions on that topic.

Here are some examples:

  • So to make sure I heard you right, you prefer to have X in front of Y.  What generally happens next?
  • “That’s interesting.  Tell me more about how that affects your bottom line.”
  • “I’ve never thought about it that way.  What made you come up with that process?”

Repeating also gives your brain time to think about the next question that you want to ask.  It’s how most of us talk with our friends.  Why not speak to prospects as friends/partners and not just another sale or phone call you have to make?  I promise your time on the phone will be much more enjoyable and your sales will be much greater as well.  As sales people, we can’t forget that we are talking to people so treat them as such and again have a conversation.

You want to be prepared with the right questions to ask and you want to listen to their responses.  It’s very logical in theory, but many sales people struggle putting it all together.  If you want to be a high performer than you better find a way to always improve from call to call.  Be curious, genuine and hungry to learn.  The rest will fall into place.



The next post will cover following up.  It’s part of the sales process but I chose to not make it a step.  I’ll explain why next time.

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