Recently, a window company rep called me and asked if I was interested in having a free, no-obligation sales call. I explained that we had replaced all our windows five years ago and that I was not interested. She got very annoyed and was adamant that I must want to replace some of the windows. I said, “Call me back in 15 years. I might be ready then.” In a sarcastic voice she said, “I'll call you back in 15 years.” And then hung up on me!

How do you listen to a prospect?
• Do you focus on the person and their words?
• What is their body language?
• What do their eyes say?

This may seem obvious, but you need to listen intently to your customer or prospect and not be distracted by your own thoughts. I find that taking notes helps me focus, and means that I have a record of the conversation later so I can make sure I didn't miss anything.

It is hard to listen intently to someone. However you owe it to yourself and your customer as you will gain an insight into their world. If you employ this technique at a first meeting, you'll learn whether you're meeting with someone who is going to do business with you. When you take notes, stop and confirm that you've heard and recorded the conversation correctly. It has been documented that in negotiation sessions that 90% of what gets written down is incorrect. If you are not writing things down and getting conformation, then you run the risk that much of what you think you've heard is wrong.

Listen for what the person wants. Listen for what they are not saying. Listen for what is important to them, personally and for their business. Too often sales people come to a meeting and only want to push their products on people. The window sales person was desperate and needed an order and was upset with me that I was not willing to replace perfectly good windows. If she was a good sales person she would have thanked me for my time and moved on to someone who needed windows. Instead she got angry and probably played out the same call with others for the balance of her day.

How interested are you?
Genuine interest in the person you're talking with will be reflected by discovering what is important to them and what they value. Once you know what they want and value (and have confirmed this with them!), you can now begin to share the value of your products. Or, you can let them know—at the moment—you can't provide what they want. Either way you win the deal.

You can be an active bystander if you are not careful. You'll be in the room nodding your head and participating and yet when the meeting finishes you'll have no notes, can’t remember the reason for the meeting, and are rushing off to the next “important” meeting, just as unprepared. In these cases I always ask a rep:

• How interested are you in your success?
• If you're not engaged in meetings with prospects/clients how will you be successful?

It is your responsibility to take interest in your business and your clients and prospects.

Sayers says:
• How are you listening?
• Are you truly engaged in listening or are you an active bystander?
• Are you taking notes at your meetings?
• Did you confirm your notes (or are you working with 10% accurate information)?
• How do you prepare to be a great listener?
• Are you desperate for the order or are you relaxed and focused on providing what is most valuable to your prospect or customer?

Author's Bio: 

Bill Sayers speaks, coaches, leads education sessions and provides management consulting services to a variety of companies. Bill has been praised for his leadership, common-sense approach and ability to inspire sales people to new levels of success. His easy manner and strong public-speaking skills make him an engaging facilitator. Bill connects with senior executives and sales professionals alike, as he shares his real-life experiences and provides the appropriate tools and strategies for success in today’s business world.

Bill’s book Funnels & Forecasts – The Great Game of Sales is available on Amazon. Sayers Says: "This second edition was important for me. It has allowed me to have my book and its message sent out to a global audience. The feedback from readers has been that the book is an easy read and that there are lots of common sense advice and tools to help sales people be more successful in their sales game. Funnels and Forecasts - The Great Game of Sales will help sales people in their quest to improve their game."

He has been a professor at George Brown College teaching Personal Selling Skills to the Sports and Event Marketing Graduate Program, and is on the faculty of Canadian Professional Sales Association and Canadian Management Centre.

To receive our free “How are you Playing The Game” Scorecard and a 45 minute one-on-one session with Bill Sayers, email: or visit: .