Importance of listening, asking questions
Fast Track 50 speaker highlights those skills
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.”