How to Stop Prospects from Running Away

Stop your prospects from running away

"Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don't have to do anything else. "        — Margaret Wheatley

Capture Your Prospects' Attention and Keep Them Engaged

The very next conversation you have with a prospect can reveal if you are hearing or listening to the person talking to you. Which is it? More importantly, how do you know which one is happening?

According to the University of Minnesota, hearing is something that just happens because people merely perceive sound by the ear. However, listening is a choice salespeople make, and in order to do this, they must concentrate. Their focus must be fully on their prospects so that salespeople’s brains can process the meanings, intonation, and emotion within the prospect’s spoken words.

Stop Prospects from Running

It is essential for salespeople to stop hearing what prospects are saying and listen for what they are telling them that is important. Every sales conversation has a purpose and not everything prospects say is relevant to that purpose.

If salespeople stay present and listen carefully, then they will know what is at the heart of the prospect’s communication. Prospects want salespeople to understand what is going on with them.

Think about it this way: People talk about what is important to them and they focus their energy on something and talk about it a lot. Prospects do the same thing when they are considering a purchase. In sales conversations, it is crucial that salespeople listen without an agenda to sell.

Duh, right? Well, you would be surprised to know how clever people, especially salespeople, can be in convincing themselves that they are not selling.

I recently witnessed a conversation between two women –Josey and Debbie. Josey started off with listening as Debbie told her about a health issue. At some moment, Josey stopped listening and her energy in the conversation turned to ‘getting ready to sell with conviction'.

The moment Debbie stopped talking, Josey seized on that health issue story because she stopped listening without an agenda and began thinking she had a solution to Debbie's health issue.

There are two important things that Josey missed because she stopped listening and started preparing to sell to Debbie. These points would have provided her with valuable information about her prospect, Debbie.

The first point was that Debbie’s health issue was not the main point of her conversation. Her health story was a side point that she was simply sharing because it was important to her not because she was looking for a product to resolve a health issue.

The second key piece of information that Josey missed by selling to Debbie was that the health issue that Debbie spoke to her about was not even her issue; it was about a close friend.

If Josey had stayed focused without an agenda then she would not have caused the conversation to end abruptly. Debbie shut down and was not receptive to listening to Josey talk about how her products would help the health issue.

I am confident that this conversation fell apart because Josey stopped listening to Debbie and wanted to share product features. Like many salespeople, Josey fell into the selling trap of listening with an agenda. As a result, she was not present and turned a casual conversation to a sales pitch that conveyed an underlying message of "I have just the solution for you!" to the prospect.

Selling Tip - Listen without an agenda; ask any question that you need to ask so that you can understand what your prospects need. Then listen for them to ask you a question that your expertise can answer.

Image background by Alexander Redmon on FreeImages.con

Tonya Harvey grew up on Army posts around the U.S. Her career started in male dominated sales, where she learned all the sales tactics that are awkward for women. Today, the mission of her sales consultancy and training company is to “change views of selling.”

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