“Too often we’re listening selectively for the areas where we know our particular solution fits, and we’re listening to respond rather than really hearing what’s going on and taking the time to really understand and ask good follow-up questions. In other words, we listen selfishly and not generously.” – Scott Ingram in today’s Tip 84
What would you add?
Join the conversation below and share your thoughts!
You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. I ran across an article the other day that was talking about the difference between listening and hearing and it reminded me of some thoughts I’d been meaning to share about the concept of Happy Ears. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the source of the article. In general, though I think those of us in sales, and I’m going to include myself in this assessment because I know I do it as well, we don’t really do the best job of really hearing our clients and prospects. Too often we’re listening selectively for the areas where we know our particular solution fits, and we’re listening to respond rather than really hearing what’s going on and taking the time to really understand and ask good follow-up questions. In other words, we listen selfishly and not generously. We also tend to listen optimistically. Probably because you pretty much have to be an optimist to survive in sales for very long. There just aren’t many pessimists. Now there are a lot of really good salespeople who are paranoid, but that’s different than pessimism. The problem with this optimistic listening is that we only hear the positive and often filter out the issues and challenges that are likely to drip us up as we get further into our deal cycle. We don’t hear the things that we really need to hear and need to address. Instead what we hear is those things that are well aligned and where we can start talking again about how great we are. I think there’s something about being in the heat of the moment with some of this stuff too. You’ll notice if you listen to other people’s sales calls that it’s easier to hear some of these gaps and issues. I suspect this is one of the reasons why if you have a good sales manager they’re often good at challenging you and asking the tough questions about your deal that you might not be asking yourself. I think this also comes with experience as well. The longer you play this game the more it slows down and the better you get at really starting to hear what’s going on. The biggest risk if you take this a little bit further is this idea of happy ears. That’s what happens when you only hear the positive and the things you want to hear and come away feeling like you’ve got a deal in the bag. This is super dangerous. These are often the deals that stall, or that you lose to the status quo. Having happy ears will really mess up your forecast and your ability to properly set expectations and hamper your own ability to know where you have work to do and gaps to address. The solution to all of this isn’t easy and it takes practice. Probably years of practice, heck I’m still working on it myself:
•Leave longer gaps of silence before you jump in to fill it or immediately start pitching
•Ask one more question
•Sit in on more of your peer’s sales calls just to listen
•Record some of your own calls and go back and listen to them
•Be a little more paranoid
What would you add? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Especially from the sales managers who are listening who have effectively helped coach their reps through having happy ears. Join the conversation at DailySales.Tips/84
Then come back tomorrow when I’ll be finished with my piece on Reach vs. Relationships on LinkedIn. I can’t wait to hear what you think.
Thanks for listening!