Selling Yourself and Your Ideas Effectively
Most people suck at listening. In fact, they usually can’t wait to spout off how much they know. What happens then is no one wants to get to know you. If they can’t get to know you – you can’t sell yourself or your ideas.
The first rule for selling yourself, your products, your services, and your ideas is to shut your mouth and listen.
People don’t care about you – they care about themselves. They are tuned into a station WIIFM – What’s In It For Me!
The more you listen, the more you get to understand other people’s agendas, wants, and needs, and the more you build trust and rapport. If you do all the talking, you repeat what you already know. If you do more listening, you find out things you didn’t know.
This is the key to selling yourself, your ideas, products, or services.
If you want a promotion, a new career, a successful business, you need to learn to listen like a salesperson.
Think about a time when you had to buy a birthday gift. You had no idea what to buy them? You walk into a store and the salesperson asks if they can help. You say “just looking thanks” but you aren’t inspired.
You walk into another store and the salesperson asks “how can I help you?” You tell them you are looking for a gift for someone but you don’t know what to buy. They ask you some questions about the person you are buying the gift for.
- “Tell me about the occasion?”
- “Who is the gift for?”
- “Is it for a female or a male?”
- “What age group are they in?”
- “What do they like doing in their spare time?”
- “What special interests or hobbies do they have?”
- “What is their favorite color?”
- “What price range are you comfortable spending?”
- “When do you need the gift for?”
Wow. So many questions and before you know it, they made a sale. You walk out with the perfect gift. All because of the salesperson’s ability to ask the right question and listen for the answers.
This principle applies in business and in your personal or professional life.
Listen to Your Way to Selling Yourself
If you were seeking out a promotion or want to apply for a new job, you must first “listen” to the job description or recruitment advertisement. It sounds weird to listen to the written word I know. However, hidden within the written word is a clue as to what the recruiter or your bosses are looking for. It’s like looking beyond the obvious.
It’s never about your technical skill sets. Lots of people have exactly the same skill sets you do. Therefore the secret is to “listen” and understand their why.
What is it they are looking for? Not skills. It’s something beyond skills. Something that’s going to work in your favor. It could be your attitude, your insights, the way you think, or even understanding strategic goals. What a recruiter (internal or external) is after is what it is that you have another candidate who doesn’t. And it’s not always about your technical skills. It is usually about your communication skills.
How do you find this out – simply by listening and taking in what is going on around you. In other words, reading between the lines.
The First Rule of Sales Success is to Listen
Going back to the gift analogy above. The first salesperson asked a yes-no question. “Can I help you?” – “No you can’t I’m just looking thanks!”
The second salesperson asked, “How can I help you?” A completely different question. Just using the word how requires you to tell them why you are there, which is to find a gift for someone.
The other thing the second salesperson did well was, ask you about the person, their likes, dislikes, age, sex, and a few other questions. They used open-ended questions which mean you couldn’t give a yes or no answer.
Not only that the salesperson listened to the answers you gave them. By doing this they were able to find out more about the occasion, the person, and their interests which meant the salesperson could make appropriate suggestions for a gift.
Boom – before you know it, you found the right gift, and a sale was made.
The salesperson listened intently to the answers to their questions and that’s why they were able to make the sale.
In other words – they asked open-ended questions and actively listened for the answers. Selling yourself and your ideas starts with asking the right questions and listening to the answers.
Listening to Answers Gets You Closer to A Sale
Good salespeople know that asking a question and shutting their mouth is in the answer they receive.
Asking effective questions gives uncovers the buyer’s pain or gain. When you uncover their pain or gain then you are in a position to help them avoid that pain or help them gain what they need or want?”
Asking in-depth questions (without interrogating the other person) helps you build trust and confidence because the other person gets the feeling that you are there to help them, not sell them. It’s called getting into rapport.
Ask Questions and Listen to the Answers
Everyone is motivated by two things. To avoid pain or gain rewards. Others come to you with a problem they want to be solved or an opportunity they want to explore. By asking questions and listening to their answers, helps you unlock the real reason they are communicating with you. What you are in fact doing, is uncovering their dominant buying motive.
This is no different for anyone in business. Let’s take a recruiter, your boss, or your customers. They are motivated by the same two things, pain or gain. What you are is a salesperson selling yourself and your ideas. You are selling a solution to their problem or helping them gain a reward.
Selling yourself as the best candidate for the role means understanding their personal objectives. Their pain is not finding the right person for the role. Their gain is finding the right person for the role.
The right person for the role is the person who understands the motivation of the recruiter (to get paid their commission) and the motivation of the hiring company, to fill a position with the right person to meet company goals. And make a great first impression.
Selling your ideas to the boss means understanding what their personal and professional goals are. The boss’s pain is not delivering results. The boss’s gain is to deliver results. By listening and understanding what the boss wants you can then work towards helping the boss deliver these results.
The boss can’t deliver results without you. It takes a team. Therefore the boss wants someone on the team who understands the pain and the gains and works with them to achieve mutual goals and objectives.
The customer either wants to avoid pain or gain a reward by doing business with you. By asking the right questions and listening to their answers, you come to understand their pain or their gain. Now you can offer the solution that takes away their pain or helps them gain a reward.
Great Questions are Open-ended
The best questions to ask to get others to open up are open-ended questions. Questions that begin with, who, where, what, why, when, how, and tell me about.
Open-ended questions allow a prospect to expand on the subject whereas a closed question that starts with is, can, will, does, do, shall, could, and would elicit a yes-no response or a one-word response that has a tendency to shut down a conversation.
Listening is Not the Same as Hearing!
Listening isn’t as simple as it sounds. Listening is a far more complex process than hearing. Hearing is a physiological sensory process that involves sounds being received through the ear canal into the brain.
Listening involves the communication process which is about sending and receiving messages. Not all messages sent are received in the manner in which they were intended. Think about the number of times you see people get into arguments because they have misinterpreted what the other person has said.
Active listening involves interpreting a message that has been sent and listening to understand. Not only listening to understand, confirming what the other person is saying by reflecting back and paraphrasing to ensure the message received, is in fact the message being sent.
Active Listening is a Salesperson Secret Weapon
Active listening is extremely helpful in building trust and rapport with a prospective buyer, your boss, or other people of influence. Active listening only happens when you make a conscious decision to listen to the other person.
Quite often buyers expect salespeople to talk over them and not listen to what they have to say. If you are in a sales role, listening carefully, helps avoid jumping to conclusions because you are totally committed to fully understanding the message behind what the prospect has to say.
How to Listen Effectively
Active listening means using attentive body language like nodding your head, keeping good eye contact, and proactively engaging in the conversation. It means you are fully focused on the prospective buyer where they have your full attention by not looking around the room while they are talking.
You must be aware of your facial gestures throughout the conversation. You wouldn’t want to have a big grin on your face if they were talking about something sad or challenging. Equally, you don’t want to be frowning if they were telling you something positive. Always let them finish before you start talking.
When conversing with others, it’s easy for them to tell if you are following the conversation. You use phrases like – “that’s interesting, tell me more” or you ask a question related to what they are telling you. Your facial gestures will also give them a clue if you are following them smiling and frowning at the appropriate times.
You can encourage them to continue simply by asking them to continue talking or explain what they are talking about in more detail. You might smile, nod your head or lean in towards them – all signals that you are totally focused on what they have to say.
Reflecting back on what others are saying is a key skill of active listening and the perfect way to avoid misunderstandings. It’s the same as giving them feedback. You might say something like, “It sounds as if you are having a problem driving your sales is that correct?”
What you essentially doing is reflecting back on what they have told you, and checking for understanding and that you heard them right. If you didn’t, the prospective buyer has the opportunity to clarify possible points of difference.
To ensure you have heard the other person correctly and understood the message, you also need to paraphrase what they have told you. Paraphrase both the feeling and the content. This ensures you have understood them correctly. If you haven’t, it gives them the opportunity to clarify what they mean.
For example: “Correct me if I am wrong. What you are telling me is that sales are down by 25%. You don’t know why and this is causing you to feel quite stressed. Is that right?”
How Active listening Increases Sales & Influence
People don’t buy from people they don’t like. They won’t buy into the ideas of people they don’t like.
What active listening does is increase your ability to build and maintain rapport with others. The more they talk – the more they like you.
Without building and maintaining rapport, it’s hard to sell your ideas, products, or services. Being in rapport is a way to get others to first like you and then buy into what you have to say. As I said, the more they talk, the more they will like you and all you had to do was actively listen to what they had to say. If they like you, chances are they will want to buy from you or buy into your ideas.
Active Listening is Key To Success
Active listening also gives you clues as to what a person’s needs are. Buyers aren’t always buyers in the traditional sense. Buyers are your boss, people who report to you, your colleagues, customers, and any other stakeholders that contribute to your success.
Often if others do most of the talking, they will reveal helpful information spontaneously indicating they have a problem or an opportunity. Actively listening for these clues will aid the sales process because you are uncovering hidden needs that they are unaware of.
Listen to where others are taking the conversation. That gives you a clue whether or not you can help them avoid the pain of a problem or the gain of an opportunity. Unless you get to the root cause, you can’t sell yourself, your ideas, your products, or your services.
The more you listen, the more you gain an understanding of what is a right fit for them and if they are a right fit for you. If not – move on and refer them to someone who can help them. Why? Because they will remember you and refer others to you because you were authentic and genuinely cared about their success.
Remember, when you listen you learn something new. When you talk you repeat what you already know.
Selling yourself and your ideas is not just for salespeople. To learn more about how sales training can enhance your life, business or career, tap into one of our coaching and training programs to achieve your goals now instead of one day in the future.
Not sure of where you are headed, why not book a FREE Discovery Session and find out firsthand some success strategies that will help you achieve your goals. We are not looking to sell anything, our goal is to help you improve your world so you can then improve the world of others around you.
Learning to lead, learning to run a business is no easy task. It takes time and education to transform yourself into the leader you want to be. It all starts with learning how to hire and manage people. It is your communication and people skills that separate the wheat from the chaff.
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