How to talk less and close more deals
What to listen for, cue card templates to remind you and examples you can use today
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Most salespeople are great at asking questions not so great at listening. Yet listening is one of the most important skills in sales because it’s the foundation for persuasion. You can’t persuade someone to do something until you understand what they care about and you won’t understand what they care about unless you listen, ask follow up questions and recap to ensure you got it right.
Bad listening leads to bad outcomes in sales
Incorrect understanding of your buyer’s problems. When you don’t listen well it’s easy to miss the root of the problem and jump to the wrong conclusion. How many times have you heard an AE ask a couple of basic questions and then launch into a long monologue about how their product works?
Bad problem solving. When you jump to the wrong conclusion it’s easy to prescribe the wrong solution. How many times have you seen an AE give a comprehensive demo of a product only for the customer to say thank you and never be seen again because they missed the mark?
Lack of trust. When you prescribe the wrong solution, you lose credibility with your buyer and fail to earn their trust. There are few things more frustrating for a buyer than a salesperson that dominates the conversation and doesn’t spend time to actually understand the buyer’s problem.
Lost opportunities. Without your buyer’s trust it’s very unlikely you will win their business. People buy from people they trust.
How to tell if you need to improve your listening skills
Most salespeople think they are already good at listening, so it’s important to have a metric and establish a baseline. Go into your call recording platform (e.g. Chorus, Gong etc) and look up your average talk time on your last 10 customer calls. If you are talking more than 50% of the time, you are dominating the conversation and need to improve.
Here’s where to find your talk time data in Chorus. There’s a similar report in Gong.
3 of the 4 salespeople in this team have talk times over 60% on their customer calls, indicating significant room to improve.
How to develop your active listening skills
The way to have more productive conversations with your buyers is to develop your active listening skills. Active listening is a communication skill that drives meaningful connections and drives successful outcomes.
It involves fully engaging with your buyer, to understand their needs, concerns and emotions.
It requires undivided attention, empathy and a genuine desire to comprehend their perspective.
Salespeople who actively listen can uncover valuable insights, identify pain points, and prescribe relevant solutions, fostering trust and credibility.
Salespeople who actively listen develop stronger customer relationships and ultimately increase their chances of closing deals successfully.
To improve your active listening:
Minimize distractions. Turn off notifications, close unnecessary browser tabs and
Ask your buyer open-ended questions to get them talking. Prepare your questions in advance of the call. For more on this, go read How to demonstrate credibility with open-ended questions.
Listen for specific cues to ask follow up questions. Prepare cue cards for each of these cues to give you relevant follow up questions to ask.
Periodically recap what you’ve heard. Prepare templates for these recaps and add them to your cue cards.
How to build your own cue cards (a step-by-step guide)
Review your recent sales calls to find the things buyers say
Write down the things that are relevant to diagnosing the deal
Examples of common cues to look for
Create a cue card template
Complete the cue card template for each cue
5 examples of completed cue card templates for common cues
How to use the cue cards in practice with your team
1. Review your recent sales calls to find the things buyers say
Select 10 recent sales calls where the your talk time was over 50%. Jump to the moments in each call where the customer is saying something of substance. Here’s how to find those moments on a Chorus call. Gong is very similar.
2. Write down the things that are relevant to diagnosing a deal
Write down what the customer is saying in those moments that is relevant to establishing any of the following 5 pieces of information you need for a deal:
Situation: Facts and circumstances, such as number of users, existing vendor, related tools.
Pain: The challenges that are prompting a change, such as problems with the current tool or problems with manual processes that can be solved with a product.
Impact: The impact they are looking to achieve from solving the pain, such as productivity gains, cost savings or revenue growth.
Critical Event: The deadline to achieve impact, such as an existing contract expiring or the next time they have to run the manual process.
Decision: The people involved in making the decision, their criteria for selecting a vendor and their process for making the purchase.
3. Examples of common cues to look for
Common examples of cues that are relevant to establishing the information needed for a SPICED summary are:
“I’m researching a few vendors to present to my boss”
“My boss recommended I reach out to you”
“We’re currently using <vendor>”
“We’re looking to solve <pain>”
“Does your product do <use case>”
4. Create a cue card template
Create a template like the one shown below for each cue to capture the cue, the follow up questions, how they add to the SPICED summary and the template for the recap.