Listen and Learn

BY Jim Cathcart
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One of the vital parts of the sales process is understanding your prospect or customer. Several things will help you become better at understanding other people and their situations.


You’ve got to be able to not only hear, but convey to the other person that you genuinely want to hear.

Learning to qualify your prospects

Know who is worth calling on. Know, once you’re with someone, whether this dialogue is worth continuing or whether you ought to move on to someone else. If it’s not going to end in a good sale for you and for them, you should move on for the time being.

Determining how buying decisions of this type are made by this person or in this client’s company

You need to know how they make decisions: do they check with someone else, do they do an analysis first, do they just go with their gut and say “yes” or “no?” How are decisions like this made?

Identifying the need gap for each customer or prospect

What’s the gap between what they have currently and what they need or want?

Confirming that customer’s felt need and their strongest interest

When I say “felt need,” I mean, for example, someone might need a better financial plan, but if they don’t feel the need for a financial plan, they’re probably not going to do anything about it. So, confirm what it is they feel a need for. If they feel a need for more control over their own life or career, focus on that. If they feel a need for a little more safety, a little more security, a little more reassurance, confirm that so that you’re able to move forward building on what they care about.

Identifying the personality pattern of your prospects and your clients

In other words, know whether they tend to be of one behavioral type or another. Know whether their values and your values are similar. Whether their velocity and your velocity are compatible, whether their intellectual bandwidth and the way that you’re presenting your information is compatible. Understand more about the personality patterns of your prospects and your clients.

Asking good questions

It’s not enough to just stimulate the person to give you information. You need to be skilled at asking good questions. What are the types of questions, what are the ways you could phrase those questions? What could you do to sharpen your skill in encouraging other people to tell you what you need to know?

When you do these seven things: sharpen your listening ability, learn to qualify prospects, determine how the buying decisions are made, identify the need gap, confirm the customer’s felt need, identify their personality pattern, and learn to ask good questions, then you truly are able to understand your prospect or customer and their situation.