Your Dog Died? Great!-Mindless Listening


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In a way sales professionals face the same problem actors face on stage: how to stay fresh and real in performance after performance after performance. Mark Rylance, currently starring on Broadway in “La Bete,” solves this problem with…

Improvisation exercises. He and the cast play volleyball among the seats of the theatre before the audience is allowed in. “For me, improv is all about firing up parts of the mind and imagination in new ways…[It] brings everyone into the present and you notice the way their minds works… In the end, acting is all about passing and receiving something and hopefully taking risks and being attentive to the unusualness of the stage work.”

Substitute “buyer” for “stage work” and you could be describing good selling. Clients are passing information, concerns, feelings and needs to you all the time and you need to be receiving what they are sharing in the most attentive way possible. According to Tom Oppenheim, artistic director of the Stella Adler Studion, “So much of acting [selling?] is about seeing and listening to what others are doing. …And it requires your senses to be fully open….”

I bring this up because I see too many people ruining potential business relationships by failing to “receive” in a genuine way what clients are saying. Instead, they reveal themselves to be on their own track, mentally ticking off pre-determined moves on the way to the sale they want, ignoring anything that gets in their way. Examples:

Salesperson: I understand you are experiencing a drop in advertising.

Prospect: Yes, we are.

Salesperson; Great! Our product can help you by…. Or,

Salesperson: How are you dealing with the recent drop in orders?

Prospect: We had to downsize our staff.

Salesperson: Great! Let me show you how our system can help increase everyone’s productivity.

Great!???? The prospect is lying on the floor, guts spilling out, wounded, and bleeding, and the seller responds by saying “Great!,” followed by a click to the next PPT slide in the presentation. What “senses” are on? Where is the “receiving,” the “attentiveness,” the deep listening, the empathetic response that would reflect a genuine interest in the prospect?

“Slow down. You move too fast…”

I admit that sometimes I rush conversations, although I certainly hope I have never responded with a “Great!” after hearing a prospect share a deep problem. It is so easy to go on automatic pilot in sales, to forget to be truly “present” with a prospect: After all, time is short. You have a lot to present. You want to make quota, etc. There can be many explanations for such relationship-killing behavior, but rarely a valid excuse for it. Remember, no one ever listened himself out of a sale.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Anne Miller
Internationally respected author, speaker and seminar leader, Anne Miller teaches sales people how to increase their business; coaches CEOs and senior management to communicate successfully to key constituencies; and enables technical people to transform complex information into simpler, meaningful messages.


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