“Thank you so much for letting me talk this out. I know what I want to do, I just needed a minute to talk about it out loud.”
This was feedback a prospect recently shared with me during a sales conversation.
She was at that stage in the process where she knew she wanted it, but needed to just talk it out.
The details and benefits of the offer had been shared and the invitation to work with the team had been extended, so now the ball was in her court.
What would she decide? Would she say yes? Or would she say no?
Usually at this stage in the sales process, it’s really easy to get caught up in the energy of trying to convince a prospect to move to a yes.
But what I have found is that often times, the best thing for a salesperson to do is just be quiet and listen.
I mean, this prospect was determining whether she wanted to move forward with a significant investment, in the middle of a pandemic.
The least I could do was lend her my ear as she talked it out. Not only did I lend her my ear, I gave her the space she needed to make the decision that was right for her.
Which means, she didn’t say yes while we were on that call, but she did ultimately say yes.
I believe one of the most overlooked and under leveraged skills in sales is, listening.
So much of sales training and coaching is focused on what to say to your prospect, but what about what you don’t say? What about the space you provide in your sales process to allow a prospect to go through their own process?
According to a 2018 Buyer Preferences Study conducted by CSO Insights, “less than one-quarter of B2B buyers considered sales people to be a resource to solve business problems.”
This same study also found that 70% of B2B buyers preferred to engage with sales professionals later in the sales process. This preference put “more pressure on sales calls to result in valuable outcomes.”
At a time when prospects are being pulled in multiple directions and dealing with massive change, it is a great time for sales professionals to truly operate as a strategic advisor. Think of ways that you can alleviate the stress that your prospects are under by providing value and building or strengthening relationships.
In many industries, sales cycles have been lengthened as prospects juggle competing priorities and in many cases, will take more time to determine how they will invest, when they will invest, and with whom they will invest.
More than ever buyers want to work with sales professionals who will take the time to understand their specific problem and the outcomes they desire to achieve. This will require listening at every stage of the purchasing path.
As sales leaders work to lead their teams forward in this time of constant change and uncertainty, let us not overlook some of the basic skills to develop relationships with prospects and deepen relationships with current clients. This is a key to weather the storm of a market contraction.