Did you ever debrief a sales call with your manager in which they suggest a question that you might have asked but didn’t? Did you ever wonder why it seemed so obvious after the fact to someone who wasn’t even there and it did not occur to you to ask? Part of the reason is that there is no pressure in the debriefing session and you might have been feeling pressure on the sales call. Part of the reason might be that the manager has more experience and has made that mistake many times himself so he is sensitive to it. But for veteran salespeople neither of those is probably the case. More than likely it is a case of not staying in the moment with the prospect. Rather than listening intently to what he prospect is saying and trying to decode what he actually means by what he Is saying, you are thinking about something else. So what could a salesperson possibly be doing instead of listening to the prospect? Here are the most common things that salespeople do when they should be listening:
- Think about how to solve the problem the prospect is describing
- Strategize your next sales move
- Concentrate on your sales process
- Try to remember what the sales manager coached them to ask
- Look for a chance to jump in with your comment or question
- Try to figure out how to respond to something that the prospect just said that you were not expecting
So what are the consequences of not staying in the moment? The most obvious problem is that you miss certain things that the prospect is saying. You might not miss anything really big, but what you miss are the subtle cues that they give which would lead you to ask that question that you missed. You might not miss any words, but you are too busy thinking to notice the change in tonality which indicates the prospect is not quite sure about what she is saying or is worried about it. If you were in the moment, you would ask a question but since your mind is too busy, you miss it and a chance to drill down is missed and the opportunity to uncover the real compelling reason to buy is gone forever. When you are in front of the prospect clear your mind and pay attention. This is not the time to solve the problem and it will be your turn to talk soon enough. If your sales techniques and sales process are not internalized by the time you go on the call they will not materialize while you are in there with the prospect. So, just rely on your ability to respond appropriately. Stop thinking and stay in the moment with the prospect. After all that’s why you set this appointment in the first placed isn’t it?
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Dan Caramanico is a salesforce development expert and he is the author of The Optimal Salesperson® One of Selling power’s top ten books for 2010 and Optimal Selling, Sales Conversations of the Optimal Salesperson.