The Fearsome Green Profit Margin
"There is only one way to make people talk more than they care to: Listen. Listen with hungry earnest attention to every word. In the intensity of your attention, make little nods of agreement, little sounds of approval. You can't fake it. You have to really listen. In a posture of gratitude. And it is such a rare and startling experience for them, such a boon to ego, such a gratification of self, to find a genuine listener, that they want to prolong the experience. And the only way to do that is to keep talking. A good listener is far more rare than an adequate lover."
Damn. That's John D. MacDonald, folks. Masterful. Insightful. A great delver into that which is human nature. And he's revealed, in that brilliant terse paragraph, a secret of sales success that cannot be overestimated:
The art of listening.
When I coach sales people on how to get initial meetings with prospective clients and what to do and say on those meetings, I always urge them NOT to bring ANY promotional products, to sit down with a pad and a pen and to ask questions. Get them talking and write down EVERY WORD they say because each and every word is a PEARL, a precious piece of WISDOM that must be captured and written for posterity. The less you talk means the more they talk which means you are having an AMAZING conversation even if you say virtually NOTHING. It's all about them, their world, their needs and opportunities to partner with them to accomplish their goals.
To uncover these opportunities ... you listen. And write. And make those little nods of agreement and sounds of approval. When you return, on the second meeting, with your ideas and your branded samples, you PROVE what a good listener you were. And strengthen the budding relationship. And that's when you sell.