The stories, humor and wisdom that they shared was remarkable, and as I looked back on it, I realized that the best part of the wisdom is is that it can be applied to many areas of our personal and professional lives.
There are two pieces that stood out, because I've heard them frequently throughout my professional selling career, and yet, like many others, don't heed them as often as we hear them. So let's look at them individually:
Madelein Albright was referring to the diplomatic exchanges she's had over the years, with foreign dignitaries, and adversaries. The point was that your message is not likely to be heard by your audience, until you've invested time in listening to them.
Don't try to sell your product until you have a solid understanding of your prospect's situation. And you won't have that understanding unless you listen; ask, then listen. Then ask again, ask more questions, and listen to the answers until it's clear to both of you, that you understand the prospect.
This will give you two advantages:
- You'll know if and how your product will fit your prospect's situation.
- You'll have established credibility with your prospect by listening to her, and therefore, she's more likely to hear what you have to say.
Your prospects will never hear you, until after you've listened to them.
Mark Shields was describing an interview he once had with a rather abrasive politician who'll go unnamed. The politician asked Shields, "Why is it that some many people immediately dislike me, when they meet me?"
Shields was quick to reply, "Because it saves them a lot of time."
The sales lesson here is to learn how to quickly qualify your prospects. When your time is your primary stock in trade, there's nothing worse than wasting it trying to sell to someone that's not qualified to buy from you.
Ask the right questions of the right people early in the process, to determine if you should spend more time with them. If you determine that the prospect isn't qualified, cut your losses, and move on. But unlike an abrasive politician, you don't have to dislike the prospect. Keep the relationship positive, because (unlike the personality of an abrasive politician!), a prospect's situation may change!
How well do you ask questions, and listen to your prospect, before telling them about your offering?
How well do you qualify your prospect early in the process, to determine if you should spend more time selling to them?