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13 Key Fundamentals to Listening and Closing the Sale

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May 05, 2006

13 Key Fundamentals to Listening and Closing the Sale

By Special Guest
C. Sorensn, Marketing Manager, OPC-Marketing

Listening is the key to talking your prospect into a sale. There is an old axiom among professional salespeople: "You can't begin to sell until the customer raises an objection". Don't call them objections, but opportunities to close the sale.
In overcoming objections (opportunities to close the sale), you must remember that every prospect is different. The prospect's thinking is based upon his or her wants, fears, needs, and desires.
No two people are exactly alike and no two prospects will ever react or respond the same way to identical suggestions. The successful salesperson develops closing techniques to direct the prospect's thoughts and actions.
He or she does this skillfully, by asking questions and overcoming objections, and also by listening.
The professional telemarketer makes the most of his or her listening ability to reach peak levels. If you don't hear the objections you cannot overcome them.
If you don't hear what the customer is saying you might forget to write up the order. What the customer is saying is on many different levels; inflections and voice tones. The best headsets allow you to hear what the customer is saying.
Listening is a primary key to success in telemarketing. Your goal is to become a great listener. Lee Dubois considered the consummate sales skills training company, Lee Dubois' client list reads like a "Who's Who" of America's great sales organizations, coined the phrase “Mr. Big Ears”. The customer wants to hear what you are selling. Are you listening to what is being said?
The following is a list of 13 key fundamentals to start your listening training:
1. Prepare.
You must free your mind for listening. Make sure you have your presentation prepared in advance, with your objections’, features, benefits, and advantages thought out before you make your call. Every call is a listening test.
2. Think like the customer.
You must learn to see things through the eyes of your prospect. Don't talk "at" them, talk "to" them. The best salespeople talk to them like their in their own family, brother, sister etc. Be friendly-- no pressure, remember they want to hear about what you’re selling… Mr. Big Ears!
3. Limit and control how much talking you do.
Keep asking yourself to "shut up" and take the order. Sometimes silence can be golden. Too much talking can "unsell" many orders. Ask for the close, then SHUT UP, no matter how hard it is, don’t say anything—nada--nothing. This may be the most difficult of all concepts to grasp. Listen and shut-up. Try this concept the next time your at a flea market, make your low offer then shut up, keep staring at the guy with you hmmm, wha?, hmm look until he lowers his price to your offer. Got it ?-- Silence is Golden!
4. Listen for ideas and concepts, not just words.
Always think in terms of the total picture. Get the big picture and any opportunity to close the sale. Listen for breathing, tones etc.
5. Concentrate.
Focus your attention on every word your prospect says, or doesn't say. Don't let any other distractions or your own talking let you miss a customer's responses, replies, etc. If there are distractions then get them fixed!
6. Learn to love pauses.
Never interrupt customers when they are trying to say yes. Allow long pauses so customers can continue. Many times it does not mean they are through talking.
7. Ask questions.
Keep the prospects involved, and use questions to lead and qualify them. Keep your customers on track; if they get off the track gently get them back on. Picture it like a train on the track, if a train is off the track, it can’t make it to the station--the station is the successful close.
8. Take notes.
Learn your own form of shorthand or chicken scratch. You may make or take over 100 calls a day, and no memory can keep up, so keep notes on every call, every response, and every objection. These little details can be the answers you might be looking to review later. Take 30 seconds after each call to jot down the most important concepts. Did you write them down on index cards too?
9. Repeat questions, statements.
Get your prospects to go into detail on all objections (opportunities to close the sale), so you can learn their real motivation and stimulus, as well as gain understanding and knowledge about how you must best pursue them. Use what they say to best sell them. Turn it around into a benefit.
10. Keep it cool. Don't ever get angry.
Use your head and let the hard stuff pass by you. Be professional and listen to the negatives-- learn by them. They are actually waiting for you to end the call.
11. Don't jump to any conclusions.
Never assume anything. Don't answer sentences for your prospects because you really aren't a mind reader.
My favorite Assumption quotes:
Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by - John Sales
If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance - Orville Wright
We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up until now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future - Max Planck
I celebrate myself, and what I assume you shall assume, for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you - Walt Whitman
The most famous assumption quote of all time: Never assume, for it makes an ASS out of U and ME - Unknown
12. Let the customer know you are still there.
Use occasional "uh-huh's" and "yes's" to let the customer know you are listening to his or her voice. This will relax your prospect and allow them to continue.
13. Practice.
Listening is a skill, just like riding a bicycle. It takes practice to become proficient.
Sales trainers historically have taught that the secret to successful selling lies in overcoming objections. Trainers in telemarketing have learned that to be successful in telephone sales it takes a very specialized mastering of voice skills, preplanning, and overcoming objections.
Once again every industry has its own particular common objections to overcome (opportunities to close the sale). You can teach anyone how to sell successfully if they have or learn the basic instincts of salesmanship.
Just remember there are only a handful of objections. Find out what they are and use them for developing your plan of attack.
If you have a great product, love your product and know it well. You should be able to present it to a wide audience. This audience will be your best learning example-- listen to them, take notes and go on to the next one if objections are getting the best of you. Modify and try different pitches and price points! Test, modify, Test, modify and repeat.

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