Monday, February 09, 2009

From Chaos to Clarity

Success in sales comes from creating clarity in the mind of your customer. Clarity in understanding the problem to be solved, clarity in evaluating the possible solutions available and clarity in determining the real value to the business that each solution provides today and in the future.

Clarity helps the customer to move forward with commitment and confidence. How do you create clarity? The first step is to listen. Warning: Do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity or obviousness of this critical first step. Listening is the foundation of success in sales. Listen intently while the customer describes his or her current situation, and then describes their future desired state so that you can help the customer to quantify the size of the gap between the two and move your collective thinking to how to close the gap. The key to success here depends on your ability to listen intently and this means being able to temporarily suspend your self-interest and avoid doing all the talking. Listening is an underdeveloped skill in many sales professionals today and listening is vital to being able to create clarity for your customer. 3 simple steps to follow to create clarity:

Listen to Learn
Mind-set Tip #1: Listening to learn is vital to your success in creating clarity for your customers. It is all about wanting to learn which transcends the desire to simply understand your customer. When we are in learning mode we are open and receptive to new and different ideas and able to explore and play with them freely. Listening intently in this frame of mind will significantly help your customers to clarify their thinking and their decision making.

Listen with Your Eyes
Mind-set Tip #2: Listen with your eyes by focusing your attention on observing your customer. Observe the customer’s body language as she describes her challenges and the ideal solution she would like your help to deliver. Listen with your eyes in an objective and nonjudgmental way. Observe her thinking. Look beyond the words she uses. Look for the hidden drivers of her behavior. Focus your observation on looking for insights into how she responds to your questions, how she makes decisions and what motivates her to commit to take action.

Listen with Your Mind
Mind-set Tip #3: Listen with your mind by listening for the unconscious forces at work in the head of your customer. Think about how they process information. Do they want facts and figures and benchmark data, or do they prefer anecdotal customer stories and case studies, or do they show a preference for testimonials and references? This will help you to understanding how they: 1) think, 2) decide and 3) behave. Knowing this will allow you to navigate your way successfully through the complexity of their decision making process.

Success in sales today is about helping your customer move from chaos to clarity. Do this by listening to learn about how they think, process information and make decisions. When you create clarity your customers will commit to moving forward with you and be confident in achieving their desired outcome.


alain said...

Hello David

As usual your article is cristal clear, makes lots of sense and is 100% operational.
I also enjoyed the picture in your post and the great title.
Keep up the excellent work

Charles said...

In my opinion listening is not stressed enough by sales managers. Often times, sales people are so busy talking that they don't stop to ask what the customer is thinking to find out what they really want.

MStrawser said...

I totally agree that salespeople need to stop talking and start listening. That's the difference between selling products and selling solutions. And selling solutions is the key in today's tough economy. A comprehensive understanding of customer needs and expectations can only be accomplished if you're listening, observing, and analyizing. Great article!

Anonymous said...

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