Have you ever tried to buy a product or service from someone who has his or her own agenda?
I recently walked into a store to buy a new printer. I had a basic idea of what I wanted, I just had a few questions about one particular model. But when I asked for help, the salesperson spent minute after minute talking about different models with different options – none of which I was interested in. I repeated my question several times; he never answered one of them directly. So I eventually left without purchasing anything, and did my research elsewhere.
I see this all the time in sales. As a salesperson, you get so focused on your message, what you need to say about your products or services, that you forget one important thing.
Here are five lessons in listening that will help you increase your sales potential.
We all do it. You see the way someone is dressed, or the car they drive up in, and you determine they aren’t your ideal client before you’ve even spoken with them. Put all of your judgments aside, and listen instead. Start out with a question: Why is photography important to you? Then listen to the answer. Use their thoughts in your sales presentation. One of our biggest wedding clients every got married in a local park and played volleyball at the reception. Yet they loved and cherished photographs, and made us pretty much their entire budget.
Skip the routine.
You probably have a variety of things you say during your sales presentation. Maybe show a presentation to music. Go over your packages. Tour your studio. Whatever is “normal” for you. Always remember what is normal for you is not necessarily what is normal for your clients. They may have seen your work before through friends and family, and be sold on you before they enter the studio. Don’t make it mandatory they listen to your whole speech before signing. If they are ready to sign after 15 minutes, do it.
Sometimes you hear one thing, and shut down to the true message. When people come in to meet with you, they may have generic questions because they don’t know what else to ask. The standard “How much is an 8×10?” isn’t always about price. You have to listen beyond what that question means. You may discover they ultimately want great value for their dollar, and want to make sure you can deliver.
Don’t fake listening.
If you go into your presentation knowing exactly what you want to say, you may miss an opportunity. Don’t wait for a client to pause so you can cram in your next comment or response. Wait for them to get everything out. And use their comments and concerns to support the direction you take them. If you have three packages, the top isn’t for everyone. Give them honesty about what’s best for them, and support it with details you’ve heard about their lifestyle.
Have you ever been in a sales meeting where the presenter has their phone nearby? They glance at it every minute or two, and even pick it up and text on occasion? Or maybe they have an earpiece in throughout the whole meeting, and you wonder where their attention really lies? Avoid all distractions, and make your center of attention on your potential client. Just by clearing your mind, and putting your focus on your client, your listening skills will increase tenfold.