by Gerry Robert
L.I.S.T.E.N. Or else!
A positive chap this Mr. Chan! I’m good friends with his former boss the legendary Colonel Izaidin. He said that he wanted to teach his salespeople to listen. “I here you teach salespeople about listening?” “I sure do!” I responded, “I wrote a book on that one subject. How important do you think it is for the success of salespeople?” He said without even a second’s hesitation, “It’s everything!” He was right about that fact. I was delighted when he told me his company, Berjaya Prudential started a company-wide campaign based on this one crucial topic.
What made me so happy was that here was an already successful company looking to develop more effectively its salespeople in this important skill. So many companies want to teach their salespeople to manipulate customers with the latest “Motivational psycho-babble” out of California. Too bad!
Sure some of those tricks work but you can forget about long-term relationships, trust, referrals and re-orders if you start using those silly so-called “persuasion” gimmicks. Don’t you hate it when others try to use them on you?
I often ask people “How would you describe a salesperson.” You might not like what they tell me. “Salespeople are so pushy.” Or, “They are slick talkers.” They tell me that what they dislike the most about salespeople is that they never shut up. This brings me back to Mr. Chan.
He realizes that one of the top skills to develop is the ability to sell by LISTENING. Haven’t you found that the most effective salespeople have an ability to put their “pitch” aside and actually, honestly and attentively listen to your situation?
How To Read The L.I.S.T.E.N. Matrix II TM
I developed the L.I.S.T.E.N. Matrix to help us to focus on a sales situation from two perspectives: one from the prospect’s and the other from the professional salesperson’s. Each viewpoint is labelled accordingly across the top of the Matrix.
The entire model is based on one idea; the prospect is the most important party in any selling situation. Recognition of this fact is the basis on effective and consistent selling. It is far more important to the outcome of the sales effort to know what the prospect is thinking and what the prospect wants to do than it is to know what you want to say next.
Six Distinct Stages for the Horizontal Rows Across the Matrix II
The Matrix II indicates there are six distinct and recognizable stages through which a prospect passes whenever a decision is made. Correspondingly, the best professional salespeople know they must structure their presentations to meet the needs and patterns of their prospects. The L.I.S.T.E.N. Sales Matrix IITM suggests salespeople have at least six stages in their presentations and strategies; each related to a stage through which every customer will proceed on the way to a purchase.
Notably, each stage progresses to a higher level of interest or commitment. Each builds upon what has been developed at previous stages.
How can a salesperson know the stage at which a prospect has arrived?
Simple. Salespeople can learn to recognize the prospect behaviors that reveal a prospect’s thinking.
Specifically, prospects ask themselves questions when making a decision; six major questions in all, which help them to decide about whether to proceed with a purchase. Observing, listening and assessing tells us how far the prospect has proceeded and what question they are asking themselves. Listen to what the prospect is really asking you as a salesperson.
Observe… Listen… Assess…
These are the three steps which can reveal just how far a prospect has progressed in making a “buying decision.” Knowing how to use these steps can be the key to staying in tune with your prospects. Staying in tune is essential to greater effectiveness in any sales situation. The L.I.S.T.E.N. Sales Matrix IITM provides a framework for observation, listening and most importantly, assessment of both.
Six Vital Questions
What are the major questions a prospect must have answered before a buying decision occurs? There are really just six major questions which all prospects ask themselves, anytime they make a purchasing decision.
Prospects may not be conscious of these questions. They may not have them written down somewhere. They probably don’t ask these questions in exactly these words. But, they must always get affirmative answers to these six definitive questions or a sale will not result.
Note, these questions are both progressive and cumulative in nature.
No prospect will ever ask themselves the third question until they give a “Yes” answer to the first two questions. The fifth question is irrelevant until the previous four are settled satisfactorily. Needless to say, these are important questions. You need to ensure that your prospects conclude a “Yes” to the question. It is not always important for you to hear an audible “Yes.” However, it is vital that your prospect feels very definitely that “Yes” is the conclusive answer to each of these questions. When this happens you gain legitimate and dependable approval to proceed in the sales process. Most important that approval comes from your prospect, not just from some premeditated strategy or a hunch. That is a major benefit from learning and using the L.I.S.T.E.N. Sales Matrix IITM.
Sometimes you may wonder at which of the six stages the prospect is operating. If you are ever unsure about which of the six questions is rolling through a prospects’s head simply, listen and observe.
Consider the two major sections of the Matrix II; The Customer’s View and the Salesperson’s View. Then, review the six major stages of both stages of both sections as revealed by the horizontal rows of the Matrix II.
The client’s perspective is the best, truly the only place to start when developing a sales strategy or a planned sales presentation.
Look at the Matrix II.
The two columns on the left of the Matrix II describe the Client’s Perspective in a sales situation.
The first column describes the Decision-Making Phases that a prospect must progress through before agreeing to a purchase.
The second column represents the six major questions each prospect asks themselves, consciously or otherwise.
Being able to recall these questions allows a salesperson to see things from the prospect’s perspective. Is that important?
These questions are so important that one can be sure whenever a prospect is affirmative to all of these questions, a sale will be completed successfully. On the other hand, whenever any question is answered negatively, a sale will be stalled and possibly lost.
How can you know which question is rolling through a prospect’s mind? Listen and evaluate what they are really talking about. What are they really asking you?
The L.I.S.T.E.N. Sales Matrix IITM provides salespeople with a general strategy to follow in their presentations. The salesperson’s first challenge is to develop and to adhere to a strategy. The following recommended sales presentation strategy follows and easy to remember acronym; L.I.S.T.E.N.
Column three indicates the strategic considerations followed in the L.I.S.T.E.N. Acronym. Notably this strategy is developed in response to a process that the prospect will go through. It is not a strategy based on a subjective idea about how to treat people or how to make a sale. Learn this six step strategy well.
Column four outlines the Selling Skill that will be most crucial during each stage of the sale. While you will develop many skills in this system, not all of them will be required at any given point. This fourth column can help you to relate the significance of each of these sets of skills to each other. Perspective is often valuable to successful implementation.
Salespeople perform better when they have a “game-plan.” The L.I.S.T.E.N. Sales Matrix IITM is that plan. It will work for you!
Mr. Chan and his company know the answer, “Because the best salespeople are the best listeners!”
Original post here.