Want more sales? Start listening

Listen closely.Now build your company.

If you find selling hard, let me offer a suggestion which could make it easier:

  • Stop talking
  • Start listening

Yes, stop telling people what you do.  Don’t tell them your title.  Or what your service offers.  Or how many different colors, sizes, bells, and whistles your product comes with.  And definitely don’t use industry terms to describe your business like everyone else does.

Curious about how it works?  Let me share an example with a high school entrepreneurship class I teach.  And yes, I teach the same principles in my youth and adult classes.  So don’t think this is just for those who don’t have “real bills” to stress over!

My students brainstormed an idea to start their businesses.  They had to solve a problem that existed in their lives or the lives of their family/friends.  They had to tell me how the idea solves a problem (easy).  And also test the idea with data and research to back up their theories (not so easy).

And what did my students discover during the research phase?  They should have surveyed their market first.  They should have started with understanding the full nature of the problem first – before creating the solution.

Because here some common responses from their market research surveys:

  • People didn’t understand the need for the product
  • They thought the pricing was too high  – even if a charity would receive proceeds from the sale
  • Prospects had less urgency to buy the product than the students originally thought

Fast forward – we are working on our second project.  The students are planning a sale in their school.  Can you guess what the students wanted to do first?

Survey their peers and teachers.

They wanted to know what items that the school wanted and how much they were willing to pay. They based all of their ordering on these surveys and had a clear sense of what inventory to gather.

And I challenged the students to go further with their questions.  Keep diving in deeper.  Listen for insights that prospects might share….that you didn’t even think to ask.

They discovered that:

  • A sizable number of their peers are not impulse buyers.
    • So they opted to focus on pre-sales
  • Buyers wanted credit card and debit card options for payment.
    • So they looked into electronic options
  • Their peers had a clear preference from their long list of food items
    • Ordering inventory became a breeze.

I know you may not be working with a specific target market of a school.  But I’m betting that these ideas will apply to your prospects and target customers.  Talk to your people.  Find out what their concerns are.  Listen.  Listen some more.  And don’t dive into solving the problem immediately.

You’ll need to talk to 15-20 with this technique.  And it will take some adjustments to really listen to what people are requesting.  And yes, it might even require shifting your current service offerings.

But it is so worth it  – if the answers are more in lines with your prospect’s needs.

So tell me what’s shifted for you? What are you going to add or edit on your next conversation with a prospect?

 

 


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

11 thoughts on “Want more sales? Start listening

  1. Isn’t that why they say we have 2 ears and one mouth, so we can listen more? This is a great post, and you’re right. The more you listen, the more you can uncover about your prospect, and ultimately provide a better fitting solution to address their needs.

  2. I love eavesdropping as market research, both on- and offline. Twitter chats in are a great way to find out what your client base is looking for, and often they won’t censor their delight or disdain as much as they would if you asked them directly.

  3. Listening is definitely a necessary skill when in business. As your students learned, it is easy to get excited by your own product or service launch and then be disappointed when it doesn’t sell like you thought. That disappointment can be avoided if you listen to your customers first.

  4. This is good advice. I believe in listening more than I speak and am always telling my children to do the same thing. Large companies survey their target market and asks plenty of questions to understand what makes them tick. Its just natural that small business owners to the same thing. Thank you for reminding us we need to do this in our business.

  5. I like this post to gain more of what others are wanting is so important by listening, because they are talking and by asking the right questions. It’s a great post!

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