Picture this all too typical sales posture.  The seller has a lot of information and really needs the sale.  She shifts forward in her chair.  She is nodding and smiling, but she's really in her own head phasing her comeback and several strong points.  She is tapping her foot a bit, and her face is pushed forward of her neck.  She is pretend-listening, focused on adopting what she believes is a listening posture.  He lips may even move a bit as a subconscious warm up for the convincing arguments being formed in her head right now.  She is smiling, but her brain is shouting "Shut up so I can tell you all you need to know and end this situation in my favor."

You do this when you're talking to your spouse, your kids, and your coworkers; so do I.  It isn't limited to sales professionals, but sales professionals have a lot at stake when it comes to listening; our livelihood depends on it.

Too often we, (all of us, salespeople or not) believe that we can talk someone into something.  We think we must mount a convincing argument to get the other person around to our point of view.

The truth is that it is more useful to listen someone into something.


A disagreement doesn't need to be a tug of war.  It may seem counter-intuitive when you are so sure that you own the information that will change everything but, besides the respect and kindness listening well imparts, strategically, it's smarter to listen.

People who feel understood are more likely to listen back and allow you to persuade.  Someone who feels heard feels respected and is more inclined to respect you in turn.

It's like catching a trout on a fly rod.  Your attention must be focused on the line, allowing the trout to run, but directing its path a bit from time to time.  Subtle moves of the rod tip will eventually bring the trout to your net, but if you lose patience and, instead of working with his movements, you try to pull him toward you aggressively, he will pull harder in the other direction and eventually snap the line and disappear.

Own your sales gene…

Frank SommaComment