Im­por­tance of lis­ten­ing, ask­ing ques­tions

Fast Track 50 speaker high­lights those skills

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Local News - By Bill DeBus bde­bus@news-her­ @bde­busnh on Twit­ter

Peo­ple who work in sales of­ten place a great deal of im­por­tance on con­vey­ing a per­sua­sive sales pitch to prospec­tive cus­tomers.

But pro­fes­sional sales trainer Marvin Mont­gomery said be­fore any­one tries to close a sales trans­ac­tion, it’s crit­i­cal to ask ques­tions and ac­tively lis­ten to a po­ten­tial buyer.

“You want to start off with ask­ing ques­tions and lis­ten­ing, be­cause I want to find out very quickly if this re­la­tion­ship is a ‘yes’ or ‘not now,’ ” Mont­gomery said dur­ing his key­note ad­dress at the 2018 Lake-Geauga Fast Track 50 din­ner and awards pro­gram on Nov. 7.

The Fast Track 50 is an an­nual event that honors the fastest-grow­ing busi­nesses in the two-county area, About 380 peo­ple at­tended to the 2018 Fast Track 50 gala, held at Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press Ho­tel & Suites LaMalfa in Men­tor.

Mont­gomery ex­plained to the au­di­ence how lis­ten­ing and ask­ing ques­tions are im­por­tant not just for sell­ing, but also for build­ing ef­fec­tive re­la­tion­ships in other facets of busi­ness and in life out­side of work.

The rea­son why some peo­ple haven’t es­tab­lished ef­fec­tive re­la­tion­ships in their work or per­sonal life is they only make it a habit to ei­ther ask ques­tions or ac­tively lis­ten, Mont­gomery said.

“You’ve got to do both,” he said, but not­ing it can be dif­fi­cult for some peo­ple to achieve be­cause they’re fear­ful about ask­ing ques­tions and lis­ten­ing.

He also said many peo­ple be­lieve the false no­tion that ef­fec­tive re­la­tion­ships are built on “telling and talk­ing.”

“As long as you’re talk­ing, it’s a one-way con­ver­sa­tion,” Mont­gomery said. “You don’t get en­gaged un­til you ask ques­tions. Be­cause when you ask ques­tions, it be­comes a two-way con­ver­sa­tion — whether it’s on the phone or face to face.”

Ask­ing ques­tions and ac­tively lis­ten­ing also shows a per­son that you care about them, Mont­gomery said.

“What ap­proach are you us­ing with your ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships that you have?” he asked the au­di­ence.

“If you want to build on them and get them to be stronger, then you have to show peo­ple that you care.”

With many busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives, ad­min­is­tra­tors and em­ploy­ees in at­ten­dance at the Fast Track 50 din­ner, Mont­gomery of­fered an ex­am­ple of how the “telling and talk­ing” ap­proach to build­ing re­la­tion­ships of­ten fails with a tra­di­tional sales pitch.

“Some­times, we’re taught to do our (demon­stra­tion), to do our pre­sen­ta­tion, to give our speech. I know it back­wards and for­wards, so as soon as you meet some­body, out it comes,” Mont­gomery said. “I call it in­for­ma­tion dump­ing — show up and throw up — you take a deep breath and knock it out.”

He then con­trasted it with the proper ap­proach that a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive should use.

“You’re there to do an assess­ment, an eval­u­a­tion — to dis­cover, to ex­plore,” Mont­gomery said. “My goal in those first cou­ple sec­onds is to find out if there’s a need for the prod­uct or ser­vice I pro­vide. That’s how you es­tab­lish re­la­tion­ships.”

Mont­gomery then cited some of the ways he’s ben­e­fited from build­ing ef­fec­tive re­la­tion­ships in his ca­reer as a sales trainer.

“I’ve had peo­ple over the last 30 years I’ve been do­ing this who have never used my ser­vices, but I es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship when I met them,” Mont­gomery said.

“And the re­la­tion­ship be­came so strong they re­fer me ... why did they re­fer me? Be­cause the re­la­tion­ship has built trust.”


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