Understanding your prospect and listening to them is vital if you are to achieve sales success. In this week's email, I explain why and give some tips on how to do this
Saturday Sales Tips

Seek first to understand, and then to be understood - Stephen Covey


I hope you’ve had another cracking week and have been closing new business now that the month end is in sight. 

Have you been using the key metrics tracker that I sent out at the end of last year? This will really help with keeping you on track to hit the milestone you need in your business. You may remember there are 3 key metrics you need to focus on weekly!

If you missed it, you can access it here

If you need any help with using the tracker, feel free to drop me a message via email and I’d be happy to talk you through how it should be used.

In the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at the keywords I know are essential in sales.  We’ve looked at TRUST, and last week we looked at BELIEF.  If your prospect feels that they can trust you as a person or as a company and they believe you can deliver on your promises, it will go along way to securing them as a customer.

This week’s word is UNDERSTANDING.  To understand the needs and wants of your prospect is essential if you are going to solve their problems or address their wants and work with them.

Every one of us is unique. We think differently and see things in different ways.  So, unless you can start to understand where your prospect is coming from, how do you expect to solve the issues they have and make them want to work with you?

Here are some Do’s and Don'ts for getting under the skin of your prospect and understanding them

DO - Make a connection

It’s important when you meet with a prospect to make a connection. People decide on you very early and so don’t underestimate the importance of finding some common ground to make them feel at ease with you. When a prospect feels relaxed, they are more likely, to be honest about their feelings around their needs and challenges going forward.

Do not, do not, do not dive right into the hard sell when meeting for the first time. This is a guarantee to get the prospects back up and make them feel uncomfortable to share further details with you. Use some initial small talk to break the ice and seek to find that common ground. 

Talk about the surrounding area, recent sports events or what we seem to talk about the best the weather! Do it in a way that sounds informal but engaging, and it will warm your prospect to you.

Getting an insight into their opinions about current events will help you to work out their personality and give you an understanding of how you should behave around them. Are they easy going and informal or are they more structured and proper?  Based on this, you can then adjust your approach whilst still being yourself.

If you would like some tips on how to handle your first meeting and building a great rapport with your prospect, check out this blog

DO - Read their body language

You might think that this is an obvious one – but I’m talking about using the kind of language your prospect will relate to the most.

Below is a link to a fascinating ‘Tedtalk’ about the signs people give off through body language which illustrates the type of language you should use when talking to them.  Check out this video and find out if you are a ‘looker’ a ‘listener’ or a ‘toucher’.  In short, people are receptive to language in different ways – visual, audio and feelings.

Which are you? Take a look and when you next meet with a prospect, try and work out which one they are.
DO - Listen ask questions and listen again

Fight the urge to do all the talking.  I mean REALLY FIGHT IT!

This conversation isn’t about you. Give your prospect time to talk through their current situation without interruption.

At this point, you need to listen, take notes and make a positive affirmation to their points, so they know you are listening, you don’t need to speak a word! If you want some help with knowing what questions to use, then you can download my 42Questions.pdf?dl=0 which will give you a range of questions to ask to get to understand the prospect more effectively. Use these to really get to know the person you are talking with.

Look to understand what is going on in their world and the problem and wants they have. You can only do this by listening and then asking the right questions to fill in the gaps on anything you’re not clear on. Once they’ve finished, go back over the conversation highlighting the key elements for clarification. This practice will show the prospect that you have listened to them.

DO - Put yourself in their shoes

Here you will need to
call on your empathy skills. Think hard about how they could be feeling right now. I learned early on in my career that while the solution I was selling was key for me, the prospect I was selling too, told me that what we did was just 5% of their work! Just 5%. It meant the product area I sold took up just 1/20th of his working world and so knowing this helped me adjust my approach and method of engagement.

How much of an issue does your service or product play in their life? Think about your prospect’s current situation and how you can improve it. Maybe they need help to reduce the long hours they work, address their lack of income, the premises they work from, the lack of staff or maybe their own physical or mental health.

What is the REAL issue you can solve for them?

Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in the same situation. What would you want to happen?

DO - Tap into their emotions

How is your prospect feeling right now?  Are they frustrated, angry, excited?  How do they want their life to change as a result of working with you?  Paint them a picture of the positive outcome and help them to see the result. It might be more income, so look to demonstrate what they can do with the extra money.  Maybe they need more time, so show your prospect what they’ll be able to focus on, now that they have time to do it.

DON’T - Fail to misread your prospect

So, you’ve had an amazing meeting, and you’re sure your prospect will be calling you back and asking for a proposal.  But then the phone doesn’t ring or that email doesn’t appear.  You’re gobsmacked… you thought it went so well. What on earth happened?

Think back to the meeting you had and evaluate. Did you properly qualify your prospect?  Did you fully cover all the aspects in your meeting? Did you really read all of the signs they gave? Did you just talk rather than really listen to them?

Perhaps they left feeling confused or embarrassed and didn’t want to come back to you?

I believe this is one of the most important elements of sales and its where so many people go wrong.

They think everything was great and yet because they haven't asked the right questions or read the real signs the prospect was giving, the prospect doesn't think that. There was a disconnect somewhere and that if undetected will seriously harm your chance of business.

Read the body language and listen to the things that the prospect DOESN'T say. Yes, listen to their overall approach and how they engage with you. Do they look and seem to be comfortable with you?

Do you look to qualify the prospect?

The model I encourage others to use is the BANT model which covers four main areas; Budget, Authority, Need and Time.  Take a look at this video which explains how you can ensure these bases are covered and ensure you’re not left high and dry again!

So, continue to ask questions of your prospects, not only on their needs now, but what they will require in the future.  Ask what their needs are, what frustrates them, what could they do without? 

nderstand them, and then find the best way to solve their problem or meet their want or aspirations.

Whatever you do, you need to focus a lot of your time in this area of the sales process. It really is essential and if you get this part right, you can prevent problems further down the line.

I really hope these tips have been useful and that you will feel confident in asking the right questions so that you understand your prospects a little more going forward.

So, what do you think the next ‘keyword in sales’ is? 

You’ll have to wait until next Saturday to find out! 😊

Don’t forget, if there is anything you would like to ask or a subject you would like covered either on the weekly email or over on my website or YouTube channel, please connect with me either by email hello@jameswhite.busines or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube search ‘jameswhitesales’.

If you are new to my Saturday Sales email and want a point clarified then just reply back and I will be happy to answer your question.

Have a great weekend and then go out and have a great last week of January hit that month end, and I will see you next Saturday!

Sales Trainer and Mentor

I specialise in working with successful service businesses who want even greater sales success


Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign