Think of yourself as their family doctor who needs to hear all of the symptoms to make a proper diagnosis and provide a treatment plan. Prospects aren’t interested in what you have to sell. They’re interested in what your product or service can do for them. They are giving you their time because they have a pain point that needs resolving, plus they want a solution that increases revenue.
Listening actively does not just mean giving your prospect enough time to speak and then continuing with your cookie-cutter pitch. Have the prospect paint you a picture of exactly what they have and what they need. That way you avoid overwhelming them with a list of a thousand reasons why they should use your product - instead, you only have to throw one, highly-targeted dart to close them.
Questions are the most important sales tool. They can help you find common ground with your prospects and show them you are keen on understanding their problems. Using broad, open-ended questions can get a prospect to open up to you as they allow for any type of response.
“Can you tell me about…” Being able to relate to one another is a great rapport builder, and everybody likes the chance to share their story.
“Why have you chosen…” The Why question is a great bridge to keep the conversation going. Use it often!
Alternatively, you can ask them to:
“Walk me through…” is easier than spelling out a list of pain points.
“Explain that again…” it is always a good idea to ask for more clarity, or repeat back to the customer what understood to make sure you are on the same page.
Once you have uncovered the right pain point and have build up trust, take the information you learned to help drive more in-depth questions. Make sure you show real use cases that use as much of your prospect’s data as you’re able to gather, show them their competitor’s results. This will be far more interesting than listening to a rundown of your standard sales deck.
It’s also important to figure out where your prospects are in the buying cycle in order to adjust your sales approach. Many salespeople jump directly and ask “what are the requirements you’re looking for?” when the prospect is very early in the cycle and this is the first conversation. Other times, a sales rep will launch into a long sales pitch, but the prospect already knows what they want and have researched and compared different solutions, and just want help purchasing your solution.
If a prospect is unwilling to provide you with substantial information, you're either talking to the wrong person, or they don't trust you yet. You can call them out on it, by telling them:
"To build a successful long-term partner relationship we both need to be open. I’d like to understand your situation so we can decide together whether or not our product is a good fit for your needs, or if I should point you into a different direction."
Remember you’re a trusted advisor for your prospects. This means you need to work towards shifting your focus to the client instead of yourself, building a relationship with them through consultative advice and asking the right questions to figure out their pain points. Then take what you’ve learned and present a targeted solution to their problem. You’ll see that the investment you make now will be reflected in long-term clients that are ideal fits for your company.
Long-lasting sales comes from quality leads. Check out our free guide and discover 4 ways to automate your lead qualification!