Learn to Listen, Learn to Sell

In the world of B2B marketing and sales, the art of actually getting clients to follow through is one that can be elusive. There are a thousand wrong ways to market a product or service, yet the number of right ways are few – in short, it can be hard to know exactly how to market something to a client, or even multiple clients, if you don’t know what it is they’re looking for.

If you want to learn how to actually succeed in the world of sales, take a note from account-based marketing. Unlike traditional marketing channels, account-based marketing is very individualized – marketers court clients on a one-on-one basis and view a company as an account, even if there are thousands of people working there. In order to successfully get sales in ABM, marketers have to fully understand their client and what they need.

How do they do this? They listen and learn.

It’s often that clients are telling you exactly what they’re looking for, but you’re too in tune with your pre-scripted sales pitch to listen. There’s also a chance that you don’t work well going off this script – a client asks a question about your product or service, and you’re tongue-tied. This kind of sales strategy doesn’t include the element of listening and learning, and that’s exactly how you get sales.

How to Start Listening Again

You know how to listen. You have to – in order move through life, absorbing information, listening is a critical skill you’ve obtained in order to get to where you are. The problem is how you move this skill into the world of sales.

Asking Questions

It’s been said that no one learns anything while they talk, but they do learn when they ask. Instead of coming into a pitch or approaching a marketing strategy with the intent to dump information and tell people why your product is the best, or why your service is the one for them, ask these questions of your client. How can we help you? What would you like to know? What are you looking for in a service or product like ours?

Once you’ve got an answer, you can fine tune your pitch while it’s in progress. If a client wants a service that’s more reliable than the one they’re using, steer your pitch in the direction of comparison numbers and guarantees.

You should also ask questions that are client focused. When a client asks a question, even in a small talk scenario, make sure you keep things brief and valuable. Then ask them something else so the conversation is about listening to them and things are mutual.

Become an Information Hound

Listening is about more than just hearing someone speak. Listening can happen in any medium, especially on the Internet. Look up a potential client and see what they’re up to. What are they Tweeting about? What do you see on their LinkedIn profile that could be of use to your pitch and relationship?

This also falls into the category of learning – listening and learning go hand in hand. When you learn as much as possible about your client prospect, you have the ability to listen with a more critical and focused ear.

You also show that you can start a valuable conversation – most clients don’t mind that you look them up online first; they expect it. This makes it easier to start off a conversation: “So I saw on LinkedIn you were once an IT specialist at Microsoft, and I’d love to pick your brain about that sometime.” This creates a personal connection. Personal connections create sales.

Be Repetitive

Don’t be afraid to parrot back the info you hear – but this can be tricky. When you repeat information ad nauseam, you might come off as demeaning or dull. The key in understanding is making sure you ask the client questions, but do so in a way that ensures them you’ve been listening.

For instance, if a client mentions they’ve been having a tough time connecting with other B2B businesses, add on to this information in the form of a question. “You’re having some B2B connection problems, right? Have you tried this blog I know of? They’ve got some great advice.”

This kind of interaction exhibits both listening skills and conversation value. You’re being helpful and also signaling that you have absorbed information the client has given you.

Offer Even More Value

In the same vein, always try to offer as much valuable information to a client as possible – that steps away from your product. It’s important to pitch a product or service, yes, but keep your ears open for other opportunities to increase your relationship’s value.

If they’re having computer troubles, give them the card of your IT specialist. If they’re looking for smarter investment strategies, give them the number of your own accountant you trust and a business blog with advice that you know works. This kind of connection proves you both listen and have more to offer than just an advertisement.


Want to learn more about listening and improve your sales skills? Call 1-800-531-8575 x 100

By Chris Del Grande

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