Is your sales team actually listening to your customers?

Sales team need to listen to customers

All sales people have conversations with customers about tricky challenges or issues. In most cases, the sales person will spend most of his or her time spelling out benefits and features of the products they are selling, regardless of whether this actually solves the customer’s problem.

Sticking with what they know is an easy option for the sales person, but what type of relationship does it create with the customer? Sure, the customer believes his or her problem has been solved, and successfully squeezing a square peg into a round hole closed this sale, but does this method create any long-term value?

When your performance is judged on how many sales you close, it can be easy to sacrifice long-term customer satisfaction for a short-term win. Look at the bigger picture, however, and you quickly see how such a strategy can create problems down the line for both your sales team and the company at large.

These three common-sense approaches can help you avoid these pitfalls and build a successful ᅳ and profitable ᅳ long-term relationship with your customers:

Be nosy; ask them questions out of interest not because your sales script tells you to
It’s very difficult to have a productive conversation if you’re not interested in what the other person is saying. As a sales person, it is vital that you understand what the customer’s business wants to achieve. Customers love to talk about their jobs or businesses, so be nosy and learn from them; remembering these details might help close a deal in the future.

Active listening – don’t talk just to fill gaps in conversation
I am continually amazed by how often we as sales people miss what our customers are saying. By listening only for key words that match a specific product or feature, sales people often overlook the important details that can form the basis for long-term relationships. Top sales people use this time to actively listen to the customer to understand their challenges rather than simply sell them a product.

Always listen first to customers

One goal
How do you balance your drive to close the deal with a customer who may not be ready to move that quickly? The best sales people communicate regularly with their customers to create common goals and identify milestones. After all, pushing an end-of-quarter deal doesn’t help you much if it highlights the sales team’s lack of knowledge or empathy about the customer’s business challenges. Working closely with your customers is key to helping you find the perfect time to offer a discount or upgrade that helps at quarter’s end but doesn’t leave your customer feeling railroaded.

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About the author

Gerald Byrne is a Senior Sales Manager for Citrix. He has spent the best part of 18 years in sales, leading and managing a huge variety of people and personalities. Gerald is a big believer in coaching and mentoring people to support their goals to deliver their best for themselves, their customers and for their company. In his spare time he enjoys keeping fit, cooking and eating, when he gets a spare moment with two young kids! Connect with Gerald on LinkedIn and Twitter. More blog posts by Gerald Byrne ››
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