Part of head woman with hand to ear listeningSales tools are “a dime a dozen” as common as “fish in the sea” and as easy to get as “low hanging fruit” they all claim to give you access to. Substitute your own cliché into the mix and it will work. You get the picture; sales tools are abundant.

If you are in sales, and let’s admit we all are in sales; you are faced with a mountain of sales advice, quick gimmicks, and must-have sales tools that claim to be your ticket to success. The right sales tools might be the help some people need, but often they are not the solution to a much simpler but larger problem.

“Solving the wrong problem is often worse than not solving the problem at all.”

There is one sales tool that can help everyone though. It costs nothing, is simple and produces results; Can you guess what it is?

Just listen – That’s it.

Listening is defined this way:
1. to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc.
2. to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true

Why is listening important? Listening allows us to gain understanding. Without understanding, you are not able to put context or perspective to the other persons words or feelings. In addition, listening allows us to gain alignment. If our goal is to help others solve problems or issues we have to have the mindset of being on the same team, of getting to the same objective. Without alignment with the other person, we are often unable to become the sales guide they need to help them make their purchasing decision.

Most importantly, listening allows us to gain clarity. In Daniel Pinks book “To Sell Is Human,” he lists Clarity as the C in his new ABC of selling. (In case you haven’t read the book: Attunement and Buoyancy are the A & B). Clarity allows us to ensure we are solving the right problem. Mr. Pink makes the case that “problem finding” has surpassed “problem solving” in value for our sales engagements. If you do not have clarity, gained through listening and analyzing information, you might solve the wrong problem. Solving the wrong problem is often worse than not solving the problem at all.

How can you better listen in order to gain understanding, alignment, and clarity?

Try these 3 steps for better listening:

  1. Ask better questions. Asking the right questions is likely the first step of better listening as it encourages more information sharing, yields perspective, and demonstrates your knowledge.
  2. Be quite. If you are speaking too much, you are not listening too much. Think about what the other person is saying and not saying. Listen with your eyes for body language, emotion, and stress.
  3. Seek first to understand. Mr. Covey had it right in the classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Empathy is important to understanding and encouraging communication.

Better listening leads to better problem solving. Better problem solving is rooted in solving the right problems. The right problems are discovered with better listening.

If you like this post fell free to download our free eBook: 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success.

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