Try this: Listen, Help and then sell


Here’s the answer to your problem…!

It’s an easy trap to fall into…you’re good at what you do, you know your product / service inside and out and you genuinely want to help your prospective customer (and make a sale).  So once you get a quick overview of their situation, you start your sales pitch.

The problem is when you jump right into selling mode, you aren’t listening anymore…and you’re not even helping.  Even if you think you really understand the problem, you haven’t made the connection with the other person that you’ll have to have if you want to close the sale…and without that connection…and without really understanding the real issue, you’re not going to close a sale.

Start with listening

Listening gets a lot of lip service…you won’t find very many people arguing that it’s important to listen, but the reality is that very few people actually do it consistently.  Next time you’re in a larger group setting, pay attention to those not talking.  Are they focused and attentively listening…or does it look more like they’re waiting for their chance to jump into the conversation?

Here are a few things you’ll get if you spend more time listening up front:

  • A connection with the other person who will appreciate you took the time to listen
  • Context around not just what the problem is, but what the impact is
  • The urgency of the problem (and how quickly they need a solution)
  • The prospective customer’s financial situation…can they afford a solution
  • An idea of how they’ve tried to solve the problem prior to this

Listening not only makes you smarter…but it creates and builds the relationship.

Now start helping

By listening first you’re now in a real position to help someone…in fact if you want to close a sale, the next step is to genuinely help the person you were listening to.

The good news is that you’re in a powerful position – you understand your industry, your solution and now you understand their problem and situation.  You are in a great place to help them…and it has nothing to do with spouting the benefits of your product.  Now is the time to really dig in and talk to them as if they were a friend or family member.  How can you really help them?

I’m not suggesting that you have to give away the farm, but making sales in today’s environment is all about solving problems first.  There’s a great article in Forbes recently: To Increase Revenue Stop Selling that really gets to the heart of this – here’s a quote that struck me:

If you want to create revenue, increase customer satisfaction, and drive brand equity, stop selling and start adding value.

In a nutshell, your job as a salesperson (or business owner) is to solve problems.  If you can do that and establish a positive rapport…people will buy from you.  As simple as that.

Try This:

Next time you’re meeting with a prospective client, put your sales pitch away and listen, really listen to what they’re struggling with and then do your best to help them…without pushing them for a sale.  It may take a bit of getting used to, but you will make serious progress and close more deals than you’ve been doing before!

What are your thoughts on consultative selling?  Have you had a great (or awful) experience with someone selling to you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “Try this: Listen, Help and then sell”

  1. Jason Terry says:

    Shawn, great article as always. We have been practicing this method of selling for years. I agree completely that really listening and providing a solution is the right answer. If you think about it, it really doesn’t feel like selling when you do it that way. Even if the answer is a referral to someone else that you trust, the client knows you have their best interests at heart… and it will typically come back to you at some point.


  2. Jason – thanks for the comment. I think your point about it not feeling like selling is really the key…it doesn’t feel that way to you and it doesn’t feel that way to your potential client. Because nobody likes to be sold!

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