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Good Listeners Get the Worm

I bought a car last week. Actually I bought two but that is another discussion. This was the first time I’ve purchased a car using a buying service and lots of other resources on the web. Even with loads of info, when if finally comes time to do the deal, it is interesting to see what happens.

Armed with a ton of information about cost and pricing, you’d think that “negotiations” would go out the window but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I emailed several dealerships plus visited a few that were close by and posed identical requests for financing information based on specific models. Despite specificity, I still received tons of generic resposes  like “Come by and we’ll see what we can do” and “Tell me about the features that are important to you.” If I wanted to negotiate, I wouldn’t have bothered to get pricing in advance. And once I visit a dealership, I’m ready to deal so please don’t leave me hanging.

Ultimately my decision came down to the sales people who were able to give me precisely the information that I asked for THE FIRST TIME. It was great. I got direct answers and even tables that showed me different buying options based on the price that I already had. Their honest and sincere approach won them my business. But it was being truly good listeners that led to their success.

So it made me think about the new customer opportunities that my clients were facing this week. How many times does a customer ask for A and we try to sell them B? How much time are we wasting (ours and theirs) trying to sell square pegs to fit in round holes?

Even those of us who claim to be great listeners are guilty of going to prospect meetings and “selling” what they think the customer needs instead of listening to what the customer wants. So I’m going to pose a challenge: go to your next new business opportunity meeting and practice your listening skills. It can be tough for those type-A personalities but sit on your hands for a few minutes and let the prospect tell you what they want. Then don’t be afraid to give them an honest answer — even if it means telling them that you can’t deliver. I bet you’ll get the customer any way.

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