The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

Improve Your Active Listening Skills w/ Patrick McLoughlin

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

How well do you prepare to listen?

 

We know how important asking great questions is to uncovering business pain. However, having great questions will only get you so far, if you don’t know how to listen to the answers. 

 

Patrick McLoughlin talks through the concept of active listening and the fundamentals elite sellers execute flawlessly. Skills like:

 

- How to prepare for the answers you’ll get from customers in a way that enables you to dig deeper or pivot decisively

 

- What you need to listen for if you want to map what you hear (negative consequences, before scenarios) to your solutions effectively

 

- How to follow up what you’ve uncovered to get your customer to feel heard & understood

 

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

 

Here are some additional resources on Active Listening

 

Playing Back Your Sales Discovery Sessions [Podcast]

https://apple.co/2E4HFQD

Approaching Your Sales Conversations with Empathy [Podcast]

https://apple.co/2YDHX8b

Our Most FAQs from Salespeople [Podcast]

https://apple.co/36Kyu1I

You may ask a question where the customer will give you an answer that surprises you, and that's that's the step back moment where, wow, I didn't expect that answer. Where do I move? You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. Will feat your sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team afforce management, a leader in BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to the audible ready podcast. I'm Rachel Clad Miller and I'm joined today by Patrick McLaughlin. Hey, Patty Mac hey, Rachel, how are you? I'm good. I'm good. Today this is a topic that you, you suggested, Patrick. We're going to talk about listening, active listening, and I know you had picked this topic because you said it was top of mind. Why is this the top of mine for you right now? Oh well, you know, when I think about what we do as sellers, we spend...

...so much time in precall preparation on the questions we're going to ask, the flow of the questions we're going to ask, and then how we are going to be audible in the moment to articulate business problems that I don't think we do enough time in preparing to listen to the potential answers the customer can give us, and I think that is such an important part of a seller's preparation. Yeah, I love that concept, preparing yourself so you can listen and better. So let's dive in. You know, we talk a lot about the importance of great questions, gleaning great information from your prospects. I've done a ton of podcast on discovery and asking great questions. But listening and getting that information is more than just writing down what they say. What you're talking about really demands active listening. Demands you be audible ready, so to speak, to react. Yeah, you know, I used that my first sales manager. He had a funny saying. He said you had two ears in one mouth, you should use them in the same proportion. I think really...

...great sellers have effective listening techniques. They're very attentive and they're very intentional. They're looking at both facial expressions, are looking and listening for tone. I also think that great listening, and especially during covid when we're doing so many calls on zoom. They eliminate distractions, they eliminate emails from popping up, so they eliminate internal and external and I also think that they map the conversations for the customer. So they ask follow up questions to the answer, questions like well, how long has that been occurring? What made you move in that direction? And so they ask and they lead the customer and they map out the problem and to the solution and they walk the customer through the process. I also believe that it's really important that when you hear things that the client values, that you bring in insightful, relevant information, proof points and...

...and continue to use open the two questions really important. And you one of the things that might be really good during covid is during a zoom call, is record yourself, record the call with the customer and playback the questions that you asked and think, did I ask a clarifying question? Did I ask a second or third level question? Really good learning experience for our sellers during this time period. When you say map, mapping the answers, what do you mean by that? Talk a little bit about that concept that doc you. So so we always a sellers we always think about, okay, what are the questions we have to get, because we want to get to the problem, because you want to tell the customer how we solve the problem. And you know, we teach people to be audible, to communicate in a way that it will resonate with the person they're talking to. But a lot of times we're not prepared for the answers we're going to get. So one of the things that I had a manager to teach me earlier my career was, hey, prepare for your answers as much or twice as much as the questions you're going to ask, meaning what's the answer you want to get,...

...where you would move to the next question in the conversation right and move the customer through the process. But you have to be audible because the customer may give you an answer that you don't want to hear and then how do you adjust the fly? And, more importantly, you may get a question or you may ask a question where the customer will give you an answer that's a prize is you and that's the step back moment where, wow, I didn't expect that answer. Where do I move? So I always ask sellers when you come up with your questions. Great, what are the answers you want to hear? What's the answer you don't want to hear so you can pivot? And what's the answer that would surprise you, that would cause you to maybe change direction completely as you're trying to map out of potential problem and solution with the client? Yeah, I love that concept of preparing for the answers and that's probably something everybody listening right now can can get better at. I remember when I first started a force management I was I guess I was here for like a year maybe, and I went out on a sales call and...

...we were asking some great questions and then they came back with something that was one of our value drivers. And the person that was with me from forces no longer with the company, but he gave me feedback after the meeting and he was like, Rachel, if they talk about a value driver, don't switch the subject. And I was like, Oh, yeah, you know what, that's it, that's that the right there. That's that's what I would call active listening. So there's techniques that we can have our sellers or sellers can use. I really had a great sales leader that taught me a lot of skills and one of the things that I was taught early in my sales career was to listen for verbs, listen for adjectives and listen descriptives and listen for feelings. Right. So when someone says they want to reduce, reduce by what? When someone says they want more productivity, when someone says they're frustrated, right, well, what's what is that level of frustration?...

You need to dive in and it's it's being so audible, ready in the moment and really ties into the value of command of the message. Right, the negative consequences, positive business outcomes, metric term, require capabilities. So anytime I heard descriptive language, adjectives, right, describing an environment or a process, verbs, I want to reduce, I want to improve, I want to eliminate. Those roll of verbs, right, all actionable verbs. What does that mean? Right, we have a customer that we've done many trainings for and he has a great saying. Make the customers stand where their feet are. Get the customer to give further explanation what they mean, to those feelings, to those furs, to those adjectives. So those are the things that I used to try to listen for when I would ask questions, to ask second and third level questions from a follow up perspective. That's that's great and you know, I wish this is a not a visual medium that...

...we're doing today, Patrick, but I've seen some great ideas for how people take notes. When you talk about mapping the answers to what they what the customer has said and leading it down those the cut the conversation, like, I've seen people take notes where it's not really linear. They might like make a for box or something and they might make a value a driver, and so when a customer comments related to the value driver, they put it together with in that bucket and, you know, not necessarily taking notes linearly in a linear fashion, but almost bucketing what you hear in a way that allows you to map those before scenarios native consequences to PBO's required capabilities. EXCENDRA. Yeah, so interesting that you bring that up. So for a lot of people that maybe listening and have gone through the value based conversation with commanded the message, we have organizations that have actually built formal discovery sheets with that XY graph. Right Urbur left hand corner. Negative consequences up a right hand corner. Positive Business Outcomes. Bottom left. Required capabilities and metrics bought imanually.

Bottom left, require capabilities and metrics. Bottom right. How we do it? How we do it better? improof points. And there's actually another client of ours has a great saying. Have you done enough work above the line to earn the right to go to below the line, meaning, have I done enough work to understand, before scenario and tangible, quantifiable negative consequences, where the client is looking to go and how they would define success? If I've done a great job there, then I get and then I've earned the right to talk to the customer or what the solution would look like and, more specifically, how my organization can get them to a place they can't get them on their own. So they have that great saying. Have I done enough work above the line to earn the right to go below the line? Yeah, so that's a great a great listening technique, listening skill. But more importantly, how do you document that and take notes actively in the sales call? Yeah, and you, because summarizing that call is so important in...

...in that follow up. And I know we mention to come out of a message, but that's also a big reason why we are such advocates of making sure you earn that right defining the PDIOS or require capabilities and the metrics so you're able to effectively pitt play those back to the customer. I mean in the conversation you want to show that you're listening, but it's also really important in the that email follow up the powerpoint. I could you lead behind because that's going to show your listening just as well. That sort of that what we heard type concept. Yeah, absolutely, and the best way to do that is the mantra right, to play back what I've heard. Mr Customer, these are the positive business outcomes and we agree to these required capabilities and metrics right, and you're really then focusing and using your customers language to repeat that back to them. I always want to make sure that if you, if you really were effectively listening, if you were listening to the true meaning of the words and you were listening for the feelings and the intuition that the customer was providing you, you would actually use the same language at the customer...

...uses. So it demonstrates you have an understanding of their point of view, which is really the number one need in the buy or sell a relationship. The need to be heard is so important in that bier seller relationship. Yeah, and I want want to remind the listeners we have a podcast on playing back the what we heard, tips you can use to play back to what we heard in your emails and in your subsequent conversation. So we sure to check that out. I've linked it in the show notes. Another thing that we talked about with active listening is this idea of you know, you want to show empathy. You want to make the customer understand that you've seen those experiences before maybe that they're having, especially if it's a negative consequence. Sometimes we talked about we have some podcast where we've talked about making sure you don't come off as negative when you're trying to get them to talk about their problem. And we always say it's not you that's being negative, it's a problem they're having that's negative and one of the ways we encourage people to make that...

...conversation more welcoming is to share what you've heard from other customers dealing with the same thing. And in order to do that right to share similar experiences that you're hearing from the customer, you have to be audible ready to show you show your listening and you have to be audible ready with those proof points. They can also help to show that you're listening to what the customers dealing with. Oh absolutely, and proof points, Rachel great point. Proof points are more than just rattling off numbers and metrics. What it does is it makes the customer almost, I won't say feel comfortable, but make them feel like, okay, I'm not the only one solving this problem or trying to address this problem, and I'm not alone in this, that this may be a use case, this may be an industry trend, this is something that's going on with with other organizations. And then it also helps my prospect determine what they're going to benchmark their solution off of. Right so inside of force management, like today's proof points are to Mars, metrics and the value based conversation. So one it does provide the client with some information, it does demonstrate...

...empathy, which is a great sale skill to have, and then it also allows the customer you actually are covertly addressing required capabilities and metrics for any potential solution that that customer would be looking at. Yeah, I think, and you know we also say too sometimes when you're looking at your company's proof points and some have some have more than others, you might say, well, you know that that company where we've got a proof point isn't in the same industry as this company, so I don't want to share it because it's not relevant. But perhaps the problem was similar or the outcome they're trying to drive to similar. So when you look at the proof points that you have at your disposal as a salesperson, don't just look at it so narrowly focus. There's probably a nugget in there that you can tie into this customer or this prospect that you're talking that will show that you're listening and draw those conclusions and proof that you've done it before. Yeah, agree completely. So, as as we wrap up, Patty Mac, we always like to wrap with with...

...a final thought and bottom line, and you're always so great at these. So if you are going to wrap this up for active listening, for the people listen listening out there, I hope they're actively listening, what would you say? Great, so I thought about it and here's my answer. Be Curious. The best salespeople have the highest levels of curiosity. They don't want to just gather in information, they want to learn, and those are the people that ask the second, third and fourth level questions. Those are the people that don't take the answers for granted and dive deeper. So have a high level of curiosity and approach your prospects where you want to learn about them, their jobs, their company, their industry, and not just gathered data, and I think that's what separates the good from the great. That's great. Thank you so much for joining me for this conversation, Patrick. Yes, Rachel, good time talking to you again. All right, and thank you to all of you for actively listening to the audibilready podcast. At force...

...management, we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (193)