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Why you need to stop ‘hard-selling’ and focus on ‘hard-listening’

Sonal Mishra
posted on 3rd August 2016
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So you have been following all the rules and principles of hard-selling, but haven’t yielded any results yet? We have news for you: hard-selling is passé now. Major corporations around the world are soon switching to what can be called ‘hard listening’. The salesmen of 2000s are taking a different, much simpler and more empathetic approach towards their sales effort, and most of the credit goes to the availability of Big Data. Time and again, it has been proven that modern consumers care little about your urgency to sell. They will only pay attention to sellers who can empathise with their needs and deliver impeccable products and services at reasonable prices.

hard-selling-hard-listening

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” – W. Clement Stone, businessman and author

That being said, be it a startup or a big organisation, one thing that entrepreneurs and managers need to understand is that your potential customers are more educated and aware than ever. The only way to develop a loyal customer base is by paying attention to the needs of your potential market. As they say, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening to your customers empowers you with the knowledge to help you chart out better advertising campaigns and marketing strategies for your business.

According to a report published by Deutsche Bank, consumers are getting harder to influence as commercial clutter is invading their lives. The report examined the effectiveness of commercial advertisements of 23 brands, both new and established, and concluded that in most cases they were seen as a waste of time.

The significant shift in the world of advertising

There is definitely a change in the landscape and consumers are becoming far more informed and smarter in their choices. On the other hand, trust has also become a critical issue for consumers. This has changed the game greatly for marketers who are looking to establish vital connections with potential and existing buyers.

As , “It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.” This means that salesmen need to spend a great deal of time cultivating meaningful relationships and be able to match their customer's requirements with the best product. If you can manage to do this, not only will your sales skyrocket, you will see an increase in the number of repeat customers as well.

Conversely, traditional hard-sell approaches like cold calling have clear standards to measure the return on investment. But buyers are often put off by such aggressive approaches. In most cases, ‘sales’ calls are considered annoying and only make customers shut you out and move on to your competitor. In order to make the most of this hard-sell tactic, it needs to be tempered down with empathy and deep understanding about the evolving needs of customers.

The buddy approach

Training salesmen to read buyer’s signals will not only make them take the right actions at the right time but equip them to deal better with the challenges that come along. Replacing hard-sell content with the practice of listening is sure to add practical value to your sales effort.

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” – Martina Navratilova, tennis player

The truth is that no one likes to be sold out. People feel better about buying from companies they can trust or from a sales representative they like. Salespeople who use the ‘buddy approach’ are friendly, warm-hearted, ask questions and show genuine interest in the needs of their prospective customers. It is all about connecting with prospective customers on an emotional level to build a long-lasting rapport.

Ultimately, making the sale is the goal and the path to that goal can only be achieved by gaining the buyer’s interest through an empathetic approach. Engaging in a genuine conversation to gauge what the buyer’s needs are and shaping your sales pitch accordingly will lend you credibility, help gain the trust of the buyer and may also help in cinching the sale.

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