Go on! Put your nose in the buyer’s business


Probably because of intense pressure to bring in sales, or not knowing any better, most sellers tell and sell as opposed to listen and learn.

Curiosity killed the cat, not the seller. Instead of qualification and presented solution (which is seeing it from the selling process), have it as acknowledge pain and decision (which is seeing it from the buying process). This distinction is not a fine line, but a gaping valley and the difference between mediocre, and stellar, sales performance. When you ask the seller what his objective of the meeting with the prospective (qualified) buyer is, he will say, “To sell”. When you ask the buyer the same question he will say, “To learn”.  The seller sees this as an opportunity to present a solution, but the buyer sees it as an opportunity to find out what lozenges exist for his pain. From the word go, both players are pulling in opposite directions; it is a game of chess that starts with a stalemate! Who’s to blame? The seller.

Buyer and seller at cross purposes

Probably because of intense pressure to bring in sales, or not knowing any better, most sellers tell and sell as opposed to listen and learn. The former pushes, the latter pulls. Both may lead to a close, only, the former climbs a hill, and the latter goes down it. The latter also has the added benefit of an extra sale and outlives the former.

When the seller listens without judging or itching to tell, the seller sees this and feels heard. In the process of listening while taking notes and asking questions to seek clarity, the buyer likely discovers how superficially he had been looking at the problem. Much like the patient who discovers that the strain in his eyes has nothing to do with the need for a pair of spectacles but everything to do with the tumour pressing against his brain!

Investment for future sale

Or, a frustrated you asking to buy the third electric kettle, only for the inquisitive seller, having patiently listened to you, confidentially pointing out that the problem is not the kettle, but the borehole water in your house. “Here, this one is more expensive but it is multi-purpose.” Listening and learning may sometimes ‘lose’ you the sale but is still an investment for future sales. For instance, the kettle seller could say, “The problem isn’t the kettle; it’s not even the water. It is wiring in your house! May I refer you to a qualified electrician to look at it?” This sale may be lost but future ones are almost guaranteed because trust has been established.

When the sale is seen through the buyer’s eyes, progress does not feel pressured. In fact, the buyer feels in charge of the sale, unlike when he feels pushed into it. But to achieve this, the seller needs to be of the frame of mind that the sales interview is for him to be curious about the buyer’s pain and help him arrive at a decision to buy based on the lozenge they both agree will assuage the pain.


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