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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Listening

I started by “selling like an owner.” That’s not bad because owners of small businesses do most of the selling in the world. However, selling like an owner tends to be more effort and desperation than craft.

After I sold that business, I started working at a marketing firm, working with customers, writing copy, and “selling.” I read a couple of books, worked hard, and was enthusiastically generating more heat than light.

My boss, the owner, sent me to another site to work with one of the founders of the firm, his college roommate. He offered to sit with me in a sales presentation, which I did not want, but he must have been better at selling.

After we finished our meeting, he said, “I noticed you were really listening to the prospect.” I was proud to be recognized.

“As a matter of fact, you were listening so hard, sweat was dripping of your nose.” Well, effort counts.

“Do you mind if I ask, what were you listening for?” Wha? Never thought about that.

“How about listening for something you want to ask about after they stop talking? And once you write that down, lean back and relax.”

“Later, if they say something else or better that you want to discuss, write that down too, but after you get that first question or clarification, you’ve done your job. From that point on, you’re ahead.”

That was a really important technique for all kinds of communication, written, face-to-face; internal and external. It’s also why I carry my notebook.

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