You can’t listen yourself out of a deal

Who likes to talk?

I do and when I get on a subject I am passionate about I get animated too. I’m in sales, insurance sales to be exact so you might think this would be a good trait to have. Not so much so…

It’s annoying when it is obvious someone is not listening and I know I am that guy at times; just ask my wife. So make it stop….

However, if you ask the right questions and take the time to listen, really listen you will be surprised how much you can learn about someone or what makes them tick. It makes the person you are talking to feel like what they have to say is important. Sometimes paying attention to the little things first have the biggest impact on a potential relationship.

Personally, it’s not always easy for me to laser focus in on a conversation and what makes it even worse, I try to be Mr Funny guy so my mind is always ready to pounce on the opportunity to take something serious and funny it up. Ask my wife how funny she thinks I am, “not very” would probably be her reply and I can’t seem to help myself; fortunately I don’t verbalize every funny thing I am thinking.

In other words, I am letting myself be distracted when I should be listening.

The annoying non-listener, don’t be one of these

There are always distractions to contend with, but these types take non-listening to a higher level:

1. The daydreamer – they pay very little attention to the conversation, usually drifting in and out and obviously distracted.

2. The aggressive – they wait (sometimes) for you to take a breath and then jump in with whatever they want to say. If you ask them a question, you will get an answer but it might not be the answer to your question.

3. The lack of eye contact – especially in a room full of people; their eyes are everywhere  but on you and they are constantly acknowledging others as they pass by.

4. The impatient – continually interrupts to ask a question, express an opinion, or interject something witty (hey, don’t look at me).

But you really aren’t that interesting

Yeah, and you aren’t that clever either…

First of all I will confess I am an ok listener at best; kind of like school, just an ok student. But that’s not to say we all can’t improve, right?

Just as there are classes for speaking, I do believe there are resources to make us better listeners as well. My north of the border friend Ralph Dopping referenced it in one of his posts and maybe now I will get the book. I tried to recall which post it was before I had to search for it, but I must not have been listening real well when he tried to tell me the first time.

The count of two…

Most salespeople get uncomfortable with dead air; going as far to ask the question but when the response isn’t immediately forthcoming, blabbering some more.

One of the methods I try to employ in these situations is to take two slow deep breaths, but you can basically use anything to squelch the urge to jump in before it’s time. It’s amazing what you can find out if keep your yap shut and give the other person the opportunity to talk.

But you still have to ask for the order

Somebody once shadowed me at a networking event. We probably met 7-10 new people while we were there. As we mingled throughout the room, we introduced ourselves and made light conversation. At the end of the evening, they remarked to me they thought I asked really good questions.

I had not really thought about it, because I don’t think I intentionally set out to do that, but to me that was one of the highest compliments someone could pay me.

If you are asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers, more times than not the deal will close itself. The only ask you have to make is for the opportunity to meet with them.

But you still aren’t that smart

But I am well read and that opens the door for me to ask those really good questions. You can certainly make yourself smarter just by hanging around the right people and asking those questions.

So, if you can connect the really good questions with superior listening skills you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams; or not, but it will give you a better opportunity because I truly believe you can’t listen yourself out of a deal.

Can you hear me now?



14 thoughts on “You can’t listen yourself out of a deal

  1. Hi Bill, Excellent analysis of a skill too few people possess or are willing to use. It really all comes down to caring. Do you care enough to listen, really listen, to what a person is saying? Do you want to find out more about the information they are trying to convey to you?

    You’re right, asking good questions is the key. If you care about what the person is trying to tell you, then you will try to find out more information by asking related questions. If you are just biding time until you can jump in with information of your own then you will display one of the behaviors you listed above.

    I’m fairly certain listening is probably one of the most important skills in sales. You have to really understand what the customer wants and needs in order to fill that void. Everyone wants to be listened to and understood. If you can make the customer feel valued and understood, then offer a solution you’re well on the road to success.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself with the humor you use. You can put people at ease with a few jokes and then get down to business. You can entertain and listen!

    • Yes, do you care enough to listen well; or are you letting your mind wander thinking about what you want to say or any other numerous distractions.

      I’m working on it; I’m going to check out the book Ralph mentioned. I’ll let you know how it works out…:).

  2. I am all of them : The annoying non-listener. I am impatient and I am a daydreamer. But I don’t often get to meet people who do not bore me ;). Maybe when you are in India ever, I will kick this habit 😀

  3. So, I kind of figured you were one of those chatterboxes. The trouble I find with them, as you say are not quiet enough after asking a question. Ask the question and patiently wait for the answer…don’t put words in my mouth as you are likely wrong. I am slow to answer as I need to think about it. If you think I am bad, you should meet my youngest brother. Can’t stand the dead silence while the wheels are churning? Ah, but we want to get it right before we speak.

    There have been so many times I have saved myself from embarrassment by not blurting out what I was thinking. Not always successful on this, but 95 % is a pretty good success rate!


    • Yes, people process information differently and if you are contemplative before replying there is a good chance somebody will jump in and fill in the silent space.

      In my effort trying to be funny, sometimes I put my foot in my mouth by not thinking before I speak…imagine that, huh?

  4. Silence can be very powerful, especially if people think you are indeed listening to them. You are right about still having to ask for the order, but sometimes there is merit in not always filling the spaces between breaths.

  5. Geez Bill. I just go this now. Thanks for the mention sir. Listen up! It’s amazing what you’ll hear. I need to do more of that myself. Alas, another trip to FLA has passed. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to get together. Next time and we’ll get that Howie character out and eat some Choibani.

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