Be All Ears when Talking with Prospects

Be All Ears

I was at the gym the other day, settling into a really good running rhythm on the treadmill. About the time I was feeling the tension leave my body, one of the trainers approached me and asked if he could have a chat with me.

I noticed my back and arms were tensing by the time he finished his question. I could sense a sales pitch coming. Then he asked me if we could talk about hiring a personal trainer. Since I am a sales trainer, I agreed to speak to him. I was curious how his approach to talking with prospects would come through in a sales conversation with me. I finished my exercise and walked over to his desk.

Too Well Rehearsed

Once he started with his well-rehearsed sales pitch. I did what many prospects do, I moved into a defensive and protective stance because I recognized that he was going to pressure me into buying something before he had established enough trust. I quickly realized how much I disliked his sales style. As I felt more irritated and I began to physically move around more in my chair, he continued, without pausing, giving his prepared sales pitch and ignored the discomfort that I was expressing by shifting around in my seat.

He finally asked me, “What do you need to make a decision that is peaceful for you?”

Who you are is as important as what you do when you sell. — Anonymous #quote Click To Tweet

Turning the Tables

Ah-ha: he wasn't as oblivious as I thought to the deliberate signals that I was giving him in my body language. I immediately said, "You haven't paid any noticeable attention to how you are continuing to plow ahead with your sales presentation. You are now asking me to make a decision and I feel uneasy. Do you understand that I feel resistance to your hard pressure tactics? So, let me ask you, “Do you see my discomfort?”

To my amazement, he replied, "Yes."

I said, “So, then why don't you ask me, ‘What do you need to know to feel comfortable making a decision right now?’

He said, "OK, What would that be?"

I grinned, knowing I set him up in my question. I answered, "I need to know that you are empathetic to me rather than simply doing what you have been trained to do in a sales conversation. You told me a moment ago that you wanted to help me make a decision peacefully and your approach with me has been anything but peaceful. I was indicating that discomfort by shifting around in my seat and you weren’t connecting with what was happening with me. At this point, I refuse to make a decision to pay for a trainer and I might have signed up had you paid more attention to who you were being in this conversation."

He asked, “What do you mean who I was being?”

I asked him, “Do you really want to know?”

He replied, “Yes.”

I told him, “You were being bullish. You disconnected from me and failed to see my non-verbal cues. You were unable to listen and acknowledge what was really important to me. If I had to guess, you did this because you were too focused on what your next tactical response would be when I verbally told you why I wasn’t prepared to make a decision right now.”

Be All Ears

I left the gym reminded of how important it is to notice the emotional cues that prospects can give us in sales conversations. When talking with prospects, how I am being is sometimes more important than what I am doing. These emotional cues, when present, are important feedback from buyers about who I am in the conversation.

  • Am I respectful?
  • Am I genuine?
  • Am I anxious?
  • Am I present with them?

Prospects' behavior can tell me a lot about my being. When I engage with my prospect, my attention to who I am being as a salesperson is obvious to us both.

Today's Tip: When talking to a prospect, focus on adjusting your word and actions to more closely match the other person.

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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