Knowing is the enemy of learning.  Listening is its friend.  Keep an open mind.  Seek different points of view.  Listen to understand versus listening to formulate your arguments.  These are the secrets for influencing others.  Selling is the art of influence.

In a sales call the other half of questioning is listening and that is why we must prepare our questions in advance of the call. If we do not prepare, we become so wrapped up in asking the right question that we fail to listen to the answer. That’s why we have two ears and one mouth. Most of us do not listen to understand. We listen to formulate our arguments and defenses. Empathetic listening is hard work. It means I really want to know where you are coming from. I’m trying to understand why you have that point of view. And when I can accurately recite back to you what I heard you say; now we are really together. There is trust forming. Now you can offer your point of view because you have earned the right.

Questions must be prepared in advance of your call. I mean scripted word for word. If you try to wing it, you will fail. And the order in which you ask them must be intrinsically tied to listening. If you listen empathetically, you will know what to ask next. You must listen with your whole mind and body. Hear it, sense it, feel it. One more thing: don’t confuse scripted with canned. Nothing causes discomfort or reveals rookie status more than hearing you struggle through a canned assimilation of words that are not your own. Salespeople must perform in accordance with their role. Learn how to deliver your lines.

Lastly, use bumper questions. These are wonderful ways to keep the conversation flowing. Some examples of bumper questions are; tell me more, give me an example, how do you mean, why do you think so. See what is happening? You ask the big question and bump the answer along to go deeper. It works every time.

OK. You have gathered your golden nuggets through great questions and you listened to the answers. But before summarizing what you’ve learned, you must ask one more question, a final probe. “Mr. Prospect, before we move on, is there anything else on your mind, anything that we may have overlooked?” You will be amazed at what follows. When I thought we were done, I have had prospects expound for another half hour. Be patient, manage your tension, and let him talk. This is the stuff you need.

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