We are all encouraged to tell stories. Which is a good thing, for not many are adept at the telling, and it is a skill that comes in very useful indeed. Stories are a very good way of enhancing the messages we continuously radiate. There is, however, the flip side. And the flip side is that we aren’t trained sufficiently to encourage others to tell their own stories, and we certainly aren’t very good at listening to those stories, either! Most of us try, or pretend to be, good broadcasters, but precious few are very good at passive sonar. We do not listen enough, and when we do listen, we listen with our hearts only a small fraction of the time. As the saying goes, we don’t listen to understand or appreciate, we listen in order to reply.
This shows up in our sales efforts. We are trained to probe for weaknesses and exploit those weaknesses. I don’t care what you have been taught or how your sales guru phrased it, that is exactly what most sales people do – push buttons and see which ones work. Now, I do not say that we should ignore how human beings have been designed. People respond to stimuli in different ways and it is good to have at least some working knowledge of these proclivities before you start selling to anyone. However, do you use the knowledge of human nature to your advantage as a salesperson or do you use the knowledge of human nature to support others in their own quest for significance? When you endeavour to show a prospect how your goods and services will benefit the prospect, is that what you really mean? Or do you really mean “Let me show you how your purchase of these goods and services will benefit me, the seller”? How many of you genuinely have this thought in your mind when you sell: “I have heard your story about where your business is right now and where you wish to go. I have discerned that what you need are such-and-such-and-such. You should use my services and buy my goods because by doing so you partner with me and we will improve your business together. No one else can offer you the same value I do.” If you have this thought in your mind, then you are indeed enhancing strengths, not exploiting weaknesses.
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