Ask Questions, Get Results – The Art of Listening, Part II

Last week, FEI sales leader Zoot taught young salesman Ganymede how to develop excellent listening skills, and explained why salespeople who are good listeners will sell more. This week, Zoot teaches Ganymede how to ask thoughtful, probing questions— another component of good listening that’s crucial to sales success. Remember, fire = print.

Ganymede shuffled despondently into his office, laurel wreath in hand. Zoot, who was finishing up some paperwork in his office across the hall, instantly noticed Ganymede’s glum mood. He could read his apprentice like a scroll.

“What’s wrong?” Zoot asked.

“Another blown sale,” Ganymede said. “I don’t know what I did wrong! I talked and talked and talked. I told the prospect everything about FEI: our history, our products, our people.”

“Is it possible you’re talking too much?” Zoot asked. “You’re confident, outgoing and motivated to succeed—qualities that many successful salespeople possess. But those attributes can also make it more challenging for you to simply sit still and listen.”

Ganymede rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I agree. I need to listen more.”

“As I said last week, skilled listening involves hanging on a prospect’s every word and empathizing with him or her,” Zoot said, “but it also involves asking the right questions in order to move the conversation forward. Asking probing, yet thoughtful, questions in response to your customer’s stated interests and needs will propel you toward a closed sale.”

“Can you give me some examples?” Ganymede asked.

“Let’s pretend you’re the prospect—Demeter of Demeter’s Café—and I’m the salesperson,” Zoot began. “So Demeter…you value a fire service provider that can guarantee next day torch delivery, don’t you?”

“This is an example of a tie-down question,” Zoot explained. “It’s a natural-sounding query that involves putting a question at the end of a statement. Every time a prospect nods ‘yes’ in response to a tie-down question, you come one step closer to locking that person into a sale.”

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
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