Too often, sales professionals make one fundamental mistake that could be costing them thousands in commissions. They believe that their job is to sell products or services to clients by explaining why their product is superior. Success in sales (and the size of your commission check), is determined not by the information you give, but rather, by the information you collect.
To succeed in sales, sales professionals need to focus less on speaking to clients and instead, learn how to listen to them. Understand the context and meaning behind their words, and find ways that your product or service can be the hero. The more you listen, the better you will be able to position your organization and the easier it will be to make the sale.
Understanding the 70/30 Rule
At Sandler Training, we like to emphasize what we call the 70/30 Rule when it comes to prospecting. If a potential customer or client wants to learn more about your products and services, they can easily visit your website. Instead, when you first make direct contact with someone new, you should be spending about 70 percent of the time listening and asking questions and only about 30 percent of the time speaking. When you are building a relationship with a new prospect, this is not the time to prepare big speeches. Instead, you should be creating an effective list of questions that will help you better understand why this prospect is contacting you, what they want or need from your organization, and how you will demonstrate that you or your company can fit their needs.
Information to gather at the beginning of the sales relationship
The first time a prospect contacts you directly, they will be looking for insight about your ability to meet their needs. They likely have already done some research on you and your offerings— since 67 percent of the buyer’s journey now takes place online—so they have a reasonable understanding of what you offer or do. Your goal during this phone call is to get to know the prospect better so that you can see how your products and services will meet their needs, on their timeline and/or budget.
- Ask questions that get them talking about their company. Talk about the size of the organization and the size of the budget for your industry.
- Discuss organizational goals. Understand the strategic goals of the company and start thinking about potential value that your services or products can offer.
- Learn about your connection. Remember that sales is about building relationships. This not only means with the company, but also with the person actually making the decisions. Ask questions about education, professional interests, and anything else that will help you get to know the person better as a customer.
When it comes to succeeding in sales, the key to success is not just having persuasive sales scripts or techniques—it’s about solving the customer’s problems and meeting their needs. Therefore, you must shift your emphasis towards listening. The better you understand the unique challenges facing your individual prospect, the easier to will be to tailor the information you pass along to nurture the lead and improve your conversion rate.