Success in Sales Requires Listening

There is a huge general fallacy out there that you have to be a talker to be a good salesperson. Too often I've heard people say, "I can't be a sales person. I'm not much of a talker." Or worse yet, some say, "I won't ever be a good sales person, I am too honest."

Sales and selling is not a bad word. Sales is the lifeblood of any company. If you are the owner of a small or growing business, you are and must commit to being the best sales person in your company. If you have a sales team, you are still selling all day long. It's not only to your prospect that you're selling--you must also sell to your employees, your vendors, your suppliers, your bankers and everyone else you come across.

Therefore, the first step to achieving better sales requires thinking about what not to do. Here are five things you shouldn't do in order to be successful in sales.

Don't Talk So Much

Good salespeople listen to the needs of their customers. The worst kinds of salespeople are the ones who prattle on about their product's features and benefits when you ask them a simple question like "Can you tell me more about your product?" Therefore, don't be like that yourself. I've been guilty many times before of talking too much. Remember that a good sales call is you listening 66 percent of the time and you talking at the most 33 percent of the time.

Don't Be Pushy or Too Aggressive

We all know when a sales person is being pushy. None of us like to feel like someone is selling us. The more your customer respects you as a person and a professional, the more likely they are to buy from you. People are funny that way--the less you feel a need to please people, the more they will like you.

Don't Talk Down to Your Customers

Be conscious of the language you use with your customers. As we are probably domain experts in our business, we tend to use words in our industry that we believe everyone should know. But in reality they don't.

For example, I'm in the CRM (What's CRM, right?) space and we often talk about access for remote sales people through VPN, Terminal Services or some SaaS app. However, most people don't care what CRM, VPN or SaaS are. They only care to know about how to manage their customers' data (using CRM software, for customer relationship management) or to have a service take care of all of their data so they don't have to (via SaaS, or Software as a Service).

Know that if you start using words that your customers don't know, they most likely won't voice it or ask questions. They'll just nod their heads and at the end tell you how nice your presentation was, tell you they will get back to you and you will never hear from them again.

Don't Beg From Your Customers, Either

Most customers will buy from people they respect and believe in to solve their problems. Rarely will they buy from you if they feel sorry for you and know that you need the business.

I learned a good saying from a friend many years ago that definitely helps: "I don't need to do business with you. But I would like to do business with you, and you can be assured I will do my very best to deliver on what we agreed on."

Don't Remember Anything About Your Customers

This piece of advice may seem counterintuitive but it makes real sense. If you can remember everything about your customers, then I think you aren't serving enough customers and giving your business even more room to grow.

With today's many contact management and sales management systems out there, you can quickly jot down notes about your latest interaction with a client. Many systems will date and time stamp your notes, and you can automatically set up a reminder to call them in three weeks.

One popular program that many people use is Outlook. Ideally you should put your notes in the Notes Field of Outlook. Outlook also allows you to set appointments and tasks and can ping you with a popup as a reminder to call someone.

Outlook is a great start if you're not ready to invest money in contact management software. I will go into more details of how to be more effective with Outlook and Contact Management solutions in future posts.

Here's to more profitable and successful sales.

James Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, the makers of Prophet, the easy CRM software for Outlook. James is a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of three successful companies, and an active investor and supporter of entrepreneurship.

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