Don't Sell...Listen

You’re going in front of a potential customer for the first time to introduce your product.

Someone in marketing got this person to meet with you based on your value prop. You know all about your product and your company. You checked out their website the night before, have reviewed your notes, prepared your PowerPoint, and are sitting in front of the the decision maker. You know not only how you can help them, but why your way is better than any other solution they might be considering.


That's all cool, but why should they believe you? First you have to establish rapport. The best way to do that is to stop being a salesperson and be a human. "Don't sell at them, talk with them." It should be a friendly conversation. Then there's the advise "Don't talk listen". Suggesting you practice good communication skills.

So, instead of beginning your pitch, ask them why they took the meeting with you in the first place. Get them talking about their problem. They must have had a good reason for taking the time to talk with you. After you really understand why that was, then you can start to put together the best solution for them. The best sales reps don't sell people, they help people. Think to yourself when you are getting nervous, "how can I help the person in front of me?" You can't be nervous for yourself at the same time you are sincerely trying to help them. Something shifts. Ask them probing or open ended questions, then quiet your selling mind, and really listen. Make this encounter a worthwhile use of their time.

In the first meeting establishing a rapport, identifying problems you can help with, and setting your next appointment is good first meeting. At first a decision maker may not confide in you about their problems, but they have them.

They usually fall into one of these categories:

  • saving money

  • making money

  • cutting costs

  • increasing productivity

Get them talking about their challenges, their objectives, where they are now, what they’ve tried and what they didn’t like about that. Your job is to get them talking about them, then be quiet and listen, take notes, understand their problem, solve their problem. Listening is sometimes hard for a salesperson, but its the only way to really understand of what matters to them and which problems you can help them solve.

If you start with a product pitch, you are very likely to turn them off and lose any hope of becoming the “trusted advisor” that earns their business.

Key things to remember:

  • Lead with consulting, not products or services. (every check signer has issues).

  • Help them talk to you by asking insightful questions.

  • Get the decision maker talking about what keeps them up at night.

  • The way to get (and hold) their attention is to probe for problems, and provide solutions that addresses them.

  • Listen, take notes and put together a great solution.

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