Listening is considered one of the great sales skills. You have to be a great listener -we’re told.
Do a survey of 10 salespeople who are great listeners, and ask them what they heard during the last sales-related conversation. It will sound something like this …
- They have to do something. Their system is now way out of date and the users hate it …
- They love what we’re doing ..
- They are going to talk it out amongst themselves first
- Our timing is good…
This is what you latch on to when you’re looking for things that sound positive i.e. that will produce a sale, quickly. But it’s all noise. What used to be called buying signals. Worse, we attach a value to this noise and call it a sales forecast.
Unearth the Not-Buying Signals
B2B selling normally involves getting people to change how they work, what they do and who they work with. That means you have to understand what they value and what are the obstacles they face when change is required. Selling is more an obstacle course than a clear running track.
Therefore, look for the not-buying signals that help you remove obstacles that give you access to the right people, get those people thinking about how there is more success available to them, and deciding in your favour. Not-buying signals are more likely to sound like:
- We’ve been down this road before. We know the game. There is no appetite to change anything.
- I think we should do this better, but no one has convinced my boss over the past 10 years.
- We’re a family firm. We don’t change easily and we like suppliers who are familiar to us.
- We hear you. You have a better product. No question. But we like to stick to the big brand. You don’t stand a chance here.
Of course, prospects are unlikely to be this clear with you. So you have to unearth clues and indicators through planned questions that unearth obstacles. That’s why, knowing what to ask about is a superior skill to listening.