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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Readers of my posts know that I am a career sales professional. Aside from the occasional foray into other areas of work I have been in some form of selling all of my adult life. I think it is fair to say that even we don’t have the title of sales executive, we all sell everyday. You try to convince a friend to come somewhere with you, you try to get a better price on some item, you try to convince your kids that you actually know what you are talking about on occasion. It’s all sales.

listen to ME!

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What do you think is the most important skill or attribute of a successful sales professional? Product knowledge? Closing ability? Prospecting? Public speaking? While all of these are important, there is one aspect of sales that will differentiate the best from the rest. It’s listening.
Listening rather than talking will reveal everything you need to know about whether or not a product or service can meet a need. Listening trumps talking every single time. You can talk yourself out of a sale as a sales person. You cannot listen yourself out of a sale though. It’s near impossible. There are no exceptions. It has been said that God has given us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in the same proportion. In other words, listen twice as much as you talk.
Mike Moran wrote about the importance of listening in social media. I agree. Being a social media voyeur is more effective than being a social media bullhorn. It’s very easy to take Internet marketing to an extreme because you think it’s a shouting match to rise above the din of all the competition. I disagree. I think you need to listen. Look at what people who may be your customer like. Look at how they interact. Look at the good the bad and the ugly. Be strategic. Don’t be an endless prattler. That is the Internet’s equivalent of the boy who cried wolf and people are growing weary of the endless self-promotion for self-promotion’s sake.
After a while people stop listening when you are constantly barking. You can easily become the Internet version of the neighbor’s dog that barks at 3 am. If you could get away with it, you would make that dog go away. Well, on the Internet you can make endless noise go away. You can stop listening and then tell others to do the same. Talk about providing service!
There are people on Twitter that I simply don’t pay attention to anymore. They love to “talk” so much and “hold court” that they marginalize themselves and render their input to the experience useless. Don’t do that. Stop. Look. Listen.
You are important but you are not the most important. No one is. The people that are important in sales and in social media alike are the ones that are heard at the exact right time rather than all the time. They are the ones who have listened and then put in their two cents to solve a problem or meet a need. They don’t throw everything up against the wall to see what sticks. That’s so old school.
I heard a band that had the lyrics in their song “If we’re adding to the noise then turn us off.” I couldn’t agree more. I will turn you off if you are just noisy and you should with me as well. Don’t take this tolerance thing too far. Some people need to be quiet, especially in social media. Be the person who provides value when they need to stop to catch their breath. This holds true whether you are a seller or a buyer.
By the way, am I talking too much here? I’m going to shut up and listen for a while.

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