The Secret to Sales or Referrals Starts with Listening

The Secret to Sales or Referrals Starts with Listening

Learning how to be a good salesperson is the key to having a successful business!

When I was a little girl I would go to work with my grandfather who sold and installed flooring. I remember asking him one time why he did not talk a lady into buying a different product than the one she chose. He told me that I had to remember that a person convinced against their will would be of the same opinion still. I had no clue what that meant until I became an adult and encountered sales people who do not understand this old adage.

I was at a very posh grocery store here in Australia, and just like in the USA they have people who are giving samples of their particular product. Unlike the USA, it is actually the company who makes the product who is pushing the said product. As I walked into the store and headed towards the produce department, I encountered a woman who was promoting some kind of bubbly water that would stay bubbly for six months. I told her I did not like bubbly water. She said, “Well you will love this soda water  and your guests will too.” I once again said no thank you; I don’t really have a need for soda water either.

She proceeded to put the bubbly water bottle in my shopping cart and said, “You will like it. If it does not last for six months just call me and I will refund your money.”

How many times have you been out shopping, browsing, and you run into that one special salesperson that you cannot get away from? She does not let up! Also she will do everything that she can to get you to take her product or service; she will push and push until you find that it is easier just to take what she is pushing at you. (By the way, this crosses gender boundaries as well as global boundaries; you will find this kind of salesperson everywhere.)

They give a bad name to the sales profession, and it appears that everyone measures salespeople by this standard. I hear people say that they join referral groups so that they do not have to sell. Ask a person what is the first word that comes to mind when they think about “salespeople” and they often say “pushy.” This is clearly a case of the exception creating the perception—it is the bad experience that comes to mind first when we think of things, so our perception is that is the way it always is.

The truth of the matter is, we all have to sell something, or we do not eat. Regardless of how good the referral is, if I cannot close the deal and sell my product or service, then it is no better than the piece of paper that it is written on. If I am referred to someone and I push on them a product or service that they clearly do not want, then I am guaranteed not to get a referral for that source again.

A good referral means that the person who referred me has identified a need for my product or service, and they have offered me up as a solution for that person’s need. My job when I follow up is to make sure that there really is a need that I have the correct solution for. No matter how well that referral is set up, there is still a sales process that has to happen, and the more skilled I am at that process the more likely I am to close the referral well and get more referrals from not only the client but the referral source.

There are so many ways to sell products and services, and so many trainers who can help with learning this ability. Unfortunately, most businesspeople spend zero dollars learning this skill, and then blunder their way through the process getting excited when they think that they “got one.” It is a hit-or-miss activity because, just like their networking activities, they are spending more time talking  than listening. Rather than asking questions so they can learn, they just keep pitching until they wear the person out and convince them that they need this product/service.

Back to the grocery store, the lady thought she was being very successful that day in the store—after all, I walked away with her product in my cart. Unfortunately as I walked through the store I noticed several bottles of the bubbly water sitting on shelves in various places.

What she did not understand is something that my grandfather taught me: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” I was of the same opinion that I did not need nor did I like bubbly water. I sat it on a shelf in aisle 5.

TIP – If your goal is to build a six figure network then it is important to learn to ask more questions and find ways to fill the need. Six figure networkers listen more and convince less.

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