New fangled sales technique?

I spend a lot of time reading, watching and soaking up information about sales and marketing.  The marketing side being my “past life” and something I’m still very interested in, and sales being my thing.  It’s what I love and a talent I constantly hone.  I like to joke that I wish God gave me the gift of a singing voice, instead He gave me sales.  In a lot of articles, blogs, tweets and YouTube videos lately, Sales Coaches and Marketing Experts preach that the old way of selling is dead.  You need to leave the “old” ways behind.  It’s all about technology, social media and changing it up.  Is it? 

I recently watched a post by sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer.  I was astonished that listening was noted as something sales people need to learn to do.  I’m sorry, is that new?  Apparently way too many sales people no longer listen.  Basically, without giving away the secret sauce, if you don’t listen, you can’t match your service to their want. 

I’ve been “sold”; I know the pitch from a mile away.  Most of us can see it coming.  When you use my name more than twice in our conversation, I immediately go into “I’m getting sold” mode.  If you pretend to care about my weekend, and we’ve only just met on the phone 30 seconds ago, I know you are selling me.  And, worst of all, if you are reading or reciting from a script, I am ready for your punch line.  You don’t want to be that guy, nor do you have to be. 

Yesterday we received a call from a lead that found us on Google.  You could hear the tension in this man’s voice.  They have “just” 2 employees right now, but are looking to grow. He was extremely frustrated with his research of CRM so far.  I could hear he was tired of being made to feel like the small fry.  I listened as he detailed his company’s need for a sales system to track their Contacts, manage their time, and hopefully track their pipeline.  After about 5 min of talking, I agreed ACT! was a good fit and noted a few features he could use right off the bat.  He took a deep breath and asked if I needed to pass him to the sales team.  “That would be me.”  I think he was floored that a “sales person” let him have his CRM therapy session without cutting to the close or even hurrying him along.  As we talked further, he rolled into his list of questions, which I answered candidly.  Some things we can solve, and I explained the ones we cannot.  He actually thanked me for spending “so much time” on the phone with him and giving him “skinny”, his words not mine.  This prospect hung up with a note pad full of answers and feeling heard.  We haven’t closed the deal yet.  I don’t necessarily “close”.   I do think the likelihood of him becoming a customer is high, and I have follow up scheduled.  With us, prospects become customers if our service matches their need.  We listen and tell them candidly if we see the fit. 

Besides a tip for honing your listening skills, you better believe this is tied into ACT!.  After the call, I recorded a History in ACT!.  I bullet pointed (is that a word?) the things he is looking for, and even made a couple notes about the personal things he mentioned.  I’ll bring those up next time to make sure he knows I was listening, not just selling.  According to the sales gurus out there, I guess we are pretty cutting edge.  We are excellent at this new fangled skill called listening.  Are you using your database to make sure your contacts feel heard? You should give it a try.  You’ll likely turn more prospects into customers that way.