The past few months I've been engaged in an ongoing dispute over something very important. In this protracted negotiation, one of the things that bothers me most is that the other party seems to think that conversation is a competitive sport.
This isn't the only place I've observed behaviors that signify a misunderstanding about the purpose of conversing. The very same thing happens all too often in sales.
I understand why it happens. Sellers are fueled by adrenaline, eager to make a sale, desperate to be understood and operating in limited time with the buyer.
Despite those reasons, we all need to remember that they don't give out awards for fastest talker, first to talk, who talks loudest, or who talks the most. There is no win when you argue every point the buyer makes.
Nevertheless, in field coaching, these are common behaviors.
If conversation were to be a competitive sport, the winners would be the ones who exhibit different behaviors. In fact, I wish there were prizes given for the behaviors that connect us to buyers and promote effective conversations.
Here are my nominations for the categories I would give awards for:
- Asks purposeful questions that yield actionable information
- Listens carefully to what's really being said
- Hears both the content and the feeling being expressed without filtering to serve a predetermined agenda
- Shows genuine interest and dedicates full attention to the speaker
If these were the awards given in sales conversations, how many trophies would you have on your desk?
The ACT listening model serves as a reminder. Before we talk, we should pay very close attention to what's being said. Then we should check our comprehension. And only then should we talk about the ways we can help with the needs that have been described.
Within this model, there's no such thing as talking over another person or taking over a conversation.
What are your thoughts about ways to improve buyer-seller conversations? Add your comments here and let's all practice understanding one another.
This blog post appears as the CONNECT! Community’s emphasis this month on connecting by listening. As a seller, there is no skill that is more important than active listening for content and feeling. For our regular features on connecting with buyers, check out CONNECT! Online Radio for Selling Professionals, read DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected or participate in CONNECT2Sell Training programs. Be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Sell Blog for weekly tips and techniques that will help you become the one seller buyers actually want to talk to. To God be the glory!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published August 2014 and has been recently updated.