Archive for September, 2009

The Importance of Listening to Your Customers and Prospects

September 4, 2009

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Or “How to Save Money on a New Car”

This is really not about cars. It is about listening. Let me tell you about the time my friend, Dave, saved almost 25% on a new car. This happened in the early 1970’s, when you could buy a new full sized car for about $5,000. (Have I really been around that long?) Dave was the kind of guy who bought a new car and drove it until it died 10 or 15 years later. His wife needed a big, safe car to haul around their two small sons, so at the end of the model year, Dave made the rounds of the dealers to find a “deal” on last year’s model.

He was disappointed at the small discounts. The best deal he could find was about $4,300 dollars. Finally he stopped at a dealer whose salesperson said, “You are in luck. There was a new full-sized sedan on the truck that came in today, and it is last year’s model. We don’t know how it got there. The price is $3,500.”

Dave exclaimed incredulously, “$3,500?” He was surprised that the price was so much lower than other quotes he’d received. The sales person, however, took his exclamation as a sign of displeasure with a price that was too high. So the sales person said, “Okay, okay. I’ll throw in the undercoating for free.” That was worth another $350! So good ole’ Dave got a great deal on a brand new car.

Instead of commenting on what the sales person said, he simply repeated part of the price quote as a question. In Dave’s case this was an involuntary exclamation of surprise, but it was interpreted as a form of clarification. Unconsciously, Dave used a form of “active listening.”

When you actively listen in your selling interviews, you give customers a chance to further explain what they mean and help you understand whether you have a solution for them. We’re about to enter a long weekend. Practice “active listening” with family and friends. They will think you have become more charming and intelligent.