Stop selling, start listening.

April 10, 2008 at 6:55 am Leave a comment

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this is a natural law: Everybody wants to buy, nobody wants to be sold. I say this because it’s the way I feel and I suspect that you do, too.

Some of us like to shop, others don’t. But let’s face it, buying stuff feels good. New car, new shoes, tasty Napa cabernet, whatever. I used to coach the president of a moving company whose eyes lit up like Christmas morning when he talked about buying a couple of new trucks.

Maybe it’s just me, but I am annoyed by uninvited selling (telemarketers, retail clerks, pushy sales reps of all shapes, sizes and descriptions) and the daily onslaught of sales messages (email, banner ads, radio and TV commercials, direct mail, billboards). To me, it’s all spam… unless it talks to me about something I want to buy. How can you put this “natural law” to work?

Stop selling, start listening.

If you’re a big B2C company, tap the wisdom of your customers. If you’re smaller and can’t afford a program like Dell or Starbucks, find a way to make feedback easy.

If you sell B2B, pick up the phone and call some key customers. I recommend this to CEOs, sales managers, marketing directors, account reps, service managers… anyone who touches customers on a day to day basis or manages those who do.

Ask, “How are we doing?” Then sit quietly and listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t be defensive. Don’t offer remedies or solutions. Just say “thank you” or “how can we help” until you’ve heard everything they have to say. Then, offer the remedies and solutions you know you can deliver now. If a good customer is unhappy, ask her to join your customer advisory board. Don’t have one? Why not?

There’s no time like the present. Take a breath. Stop selling, start listening. Make it part of your strategic plan. You will sell more if you do.

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Entry filed under: advertising, CEO coach, customer focus, key executive coach, management, marketing, marketing coach, sales, strategic planning. Tags: , , , , .

A classy way to say goodbye. Hey Qwest, take me off your list.

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