Sales Skills Part 4

Following on from our previous sales skills blogs, here are the skills of listening and belief.

“The Gift of the Gab”

Have you ever heard this expression? This old saying that means you have to be good at talking to be good at sales.

Anyone who has experience of sales will simply laugh this off! Why? Because the exact opposite is true. You have to be a good listener to be good at sales.

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups. To simply assume your product fits all and you don’t need to understand your customer, is foolhardy at best. Sales people who walk in and start their sales pitch before asking any questions are doomed to fail.

My old Sales Manager taught me ‘Two ears, one mouth’ meaning it’s more important to listen than speak. You get much further with questions than you do answers.

Ask your way to the sale

Old style Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) was so guilty of this.

I remember sitting in a restaurant reading my book many years ago and I heard a fellow customer drawing circles to this couple for over an hour. I heard the odd “But, but” from the people he was lecturing to, yet he carried on regardless as he was taught that no one will join you unless you get the entire pitch in. Then at the end the guy said:

“Thanks so much for explaining all this but sadly I was trying to tell you I’m joining the Navy and in 2 days I’m off to sea”. Well the guys face was a picture! If only he had listened in the first place.

Listening in itself is a skill that few have naturally. You have met the bores who just don’t know when to stop! Most people have to learn to be a good listener. In my experience I have met some women who were terrible listeners and rarely took in any information, so it is not more innate to one gender than any other.

Sales people are trained to repeat back things that a client has said so that it proves the sales person is understanding the client.

Lesson learned:

‘When you speak you only repeat what you know, when you listen you are open to much new learning’


‘The whole world’s a stage and we are merely actors’  

During my time in B2C and the B2B sales I was taught how to mimic gestures. For example, we would ask a client “So if this problem continues what will happen to your bottom line?” and then we would watch to see what they did when expressing displeasure.

Sometimes they would pout or bang their hand on the table, then we switch and ask “If this problem goes away how will you feel?” Then watch to see their physical gestures if they lean back and sigh, maybe look up to the sky.

Later we do the same gestures when we are going through the pitch. “So you are saying this software is doing your head in?” (Big pout and bang your hand on the PC but don’t break it).  Then over to your software: “So when our software is installed and saving you a massive headache” and a big sigh and look up to the sky.

I learned later in life that these are Neuro Linguistic Skills called ‘anchoring’ that develops trust subliminally. Yet when I saw people trying to do this it looked very unnatural.

Keep the Faith

Total Belief in what you sell means you do not have to try to be unnatural. I have seen sales people do these things without even trying and later had no idea they were mimicking the client. Nor did the client when they signed the order form.

One of the best things you can ever do for your business is do something you have utter belief in. The cure for any fear of public speaking is belief. If you feel passionately about something you will find your voice and religious people will say their God is with them and they find their fire.

Many years ago I had a colleague who was struggling to sell. He was well versed in all the products and was a fine speaker but our manager was determined to find out what was wrong? He then asked him to do a full demonstration back at the office and he filmed him on the old cine cameras (after all it was after all mid-1990s).

My Manager knew all long what his issue was but had to lead my colleague to his own logical conclusion. During the demonstration my boss asked him how we compare to our competitors. He replied “We are likewise on price, but just that bit better on performance. So, Mr. Customer I think we should progress to the order forms.” Later my manager played this scene back and my friend was shocked at his own body language!

He shook his head as he spoke about the competition! His mouth was saying what he was taught, but his body language gave him away. He had no idea he was doing it, and this will be digested subliminally by the clients he would have sat in front of.

Maybe the client could not specifically say why he opted for the competitors’ product, but something did not seem right to them and hence my friend’s orders decreased.

The solution was simple.My friend was sent back to training for a few days and when he came back he was sold on our products again and had belief and went back to selling well again.

Lesson learned:

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Now not everybody had a sales manager as good as mine. I am blessed to have met some very astute people whom I learned a great deal from and I would have never have learned if I was talking the whole time.

If you are a startup, SME or a Blue chip company and you don’t have the time or a school for your staff to go and learn to be proficient sales people, or if your marketing staff is struggling to find leads we are here to help you with qualified sales leads direct to your email. Or if you need Sales Training at your office get in touch. Let us do the hard work for you so that you can grow your business.

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