NEGOTIATE AS YOUR REAL SELF, NOT YOUR BUSINESS SELF Be professional, but make sure you’re bringing authenticity to your work. Sales is a people business. While we are selling solutions, prod- ucts, or software to a prospective client, remember: You are appealing to another human, who ultimately is looking for their needs and goals to be met. Individuality, honesty, and profes- sional integrity continue to go a long way. We’re all human, and closing the deal can sometimes mean letting your guard down to be personal or vulnerable with a prospect. Bring your authentic self to the sales table when helping to communicate and work through difficult scenarios with both your team and clients. As you’re getting started, listing your strengths and weaknesses can be a way of creating a sense of self-awareness and signaling to your team members where you can best help “close the


Active Listening – Your Key to Better Sales Relationships

Do you think of listening as a passive skill? Quite the contrary – listening is an active process. In selling, both your customer and your employee need to know that you really care about what they’re saying. Don’t let your mind wander. Hang on every word. Active listeners respond in a conversation by stat-

ing their impression of what the other person is saying. Active listening keeps others off the defensive. It gets problems out into the open, calms down angry people, prevents mistakes, and establishes win/win situations. The following sales manager/employee script is a good example of active listening. Let’s say Joe is president of a small research-and- development firm. He believes that his sales manager, Kurt, is taking on too great a share of the work – de- creasing overall efficiency among the sales team. Joe practices active listening. He invites Kurt into his

office, asks his secretary to hold all phone calls, and offers Kurt a cup of tea. Attention to those details is important in setting up an atmosphere where a use-

deal” – and where you might need support. Transparency is key.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO EMBRACE THE UNCONVENTIONAL Conventional thinking would have you believe that “the customer is always right.” However, this isn’t always true. A prospect can come into discussions with you having one solution in mind, but don’t blindly make a sale just to close a deal. Becoming a stand- out sales representative sometimes means a little pushback to ask more questions and better understand their needs – not just what a prospect thinks they need. As sales representa- tives, we can be facilitators of a sale, but don’t let this overshadow the value you bring to your customer. If you want them to walk away with a memorable experience and an inclination to recommend you and your business, you need to not just close the deal, but be thoughtful with your recommendations to meet a


It is the trouble that never comes that causes the loss of sleep.


customer’s needs – even if that looks different from their original vision. There’s no doubt this year has

been difficult. But opportunities still abound and organizations are looking for standout sellers who can succeed. Whether you’re fresh out of school or are looking for the next opportunity, these techniques can help pave the path to a successful sales career. 

Sam Levy is SVP of Sales at Oracle NetSuite.

ful conversation can take place. Here’s a conversation between Joe and Kurt that illustrates the major points of active listening.

Joe: Kurt, it seems as though your sales team mem- bers have been able to take it pretty easy lately while you seem overworked. Have you noticed that? Kurt: Actually, I guess I have been working a little

harder than usual. I have to do everything myself, though. I can’t trust those guys to do things right! Joe: So you’re saying that you’re the only person who can handle accounts with the proper amount of care? Kurt: Yes. Harry was late on delivery of two reports for our biggest client. The reports were done – Harry just didn’t deliver them on time. Joe: You’re a little jumpy about the rest of the team,

then, because of Harry’s mistake. Kurt: That’s right. They acted like it was no big deal. Joe is getting to the bottom of the problem by using

active listening techniques. Joe never makes sugges- tions for solutions. He merely repeats what he thinks Kurt said – and what he meant, as well. Paraphrasing does not imply agreement, just acceptance that the other person has a right to that feeling or statement. Active listening – in the field or in the office – is a vital in-

gredient in the selling mix. Remember: Every word counts! – JEFFREY P. DAVIDSON


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