Beyond Questioning and Listening – How To Build Partnerships

Many salespeople tell me that the greatest skill they can develop is that of excellent communications. And I would agree. Unless you are excelling at this most vital of skills, you risk missing many opportunities that exist out there.

However, most salespeople we train overestimate the quality of their communication skills, some by a vast amount. If I were to ask you how you would rate your listening and questioning skills out of ten, how many of you would say ‘minus two’?!

We think we are good at communicating because we get the sale and we have a bunch of customers who keep coming back to us. But what about the next step in communicating? Here’s my take on things: Salespeople with good listening skills will hear the issues their prospect has. Salespeople with good questioning skills will identify the problems causing those issues. Salespeople with both listening and questioning skills will be able to reiterate those problems and issues.

All good and fine so far. But let’s go further. Some of the best salespeople I’ve met have the ability to recognise the one compelling thing for which their prospect will invest money. You must be able to perceive the one thing that might not even be on the list, and this involves deeper listening and reading between the lines of what might be greater opportunities for the prospect than they had originally thought. It’s deeper than just being a salesperson, deeper even than being a consultant.

It’s partnering with the business in a way that creates opportunities for both parties, rather than just solving current problems. That prospect will spend money with your company to no longer feel overwhelmed with their whole list of issues because you will help them achieve things they couldn’t do with anyone else.

Can you imagine being in the prospect’s shoes when they see rewards they hadn’t seen before, see challenges lifted that they couldn’t see past? Can you identify those areas of concern that has been restricting their business opportunities? If you can, you show yourself as the kind of company and salesperson they cannot do their business without.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Sean McPheat

Hi! I'm the founder and Managing Director of MTD Sales Training - we offer sales training solutions for companies both large and small. I'm blessed to work with 25 of the most talented trainers in the UK....well, I did recruit them! 😉 Today, we've delivered training in over 23 countries to over 3,500 different organisations and 100,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

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One thought on “Beyond Questioning and Listening – How To Build Partnerships”

  1. Great Post. Really on the money and well worth reading. What you’re describing is as much a frame of mind and a supporting attitude as anything else. There are different levels of listening and what’s being described here is the ability to intuit what’s often inferred, implied and unsaid. People see that as an ‘aha’ moment. Pens get put down and people stop in their tracks…. You’ve changed the game and helped your client to win. You also win as a consequence. That’s memorable!
    So much that’s good issues from this, you become creative, you get seen as a Value creator and as a ‘must have’ partner……In essence you become part of the Team…happy days!

    Alasdar Browne
    Leadership Coach

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