Viewpoint for your business. Listening.

Sandra Novick, SVP, Marketing, Suffolk County National Bank

Approximately 10 years ago, I inadvertently had one of my most valuable sales lessons.

For this meeting, my company was the client being presented to. There were two people making the pitch -- the president and the business line senior executive. They had done a little research on my company, and came prepared with a proposal. In fact, a very big proposal, since our prior history with this firm did not include even 10% of the proposed total annual cost.

Although taken aback at first, I recognized that they had some good ideas. I explained that while the scope proposed would be unlikely, there was potential business to be considered. What transpired next was most interesting. The president heard "no," and immediately disengaged. However, the senior executive asked several further questions about my company's objectives related to their services. Two days later, I received a second proposal for 25% of the original, which was focused around my company's specific objectives -- which I signed. From that point on, the business relationship grew each year, and is still healthy and going strong. I later learned that the president advised the senior executive not to waste the time -- my company was not interested. He couldn't have been more wrong.

The lesson I learned? LISTEN. Listening is both an art and discipline, that is often challenged when the planned "script" is detoured. Listening is a skill that can't be honed enough.

I also learned that regardless if it's the sales process or internal collaboration, when we listen, we must be open and then both flexible and nimble in our response. It is not necessary to respond immediately, but the response must incorporate the information learned through effective listening.

In the following Harvard Business Review blog, Ram Charan discusses the discipline of listening from the leadership perspective -- how listening is essential to effective leadership, and especially leading your company for the future:  The Discipline of Listening .

And, in this second post, focused on sales strategies for start-ups, Mashable discusses listening as one of the key steps in the sales process. Again, good points to remember, whether your company is well-established or just starting out: 7 Ways to Beef Up Your Sales Strategy.

Past Viewpoint Postings

Doing well by doing good.  Positive effects of social performance.
Quality counts.  Substance trumps form, and other lessons.
Tips for Success.  Simple yet sage advice for success in 2012.
Partnerships. Value in technology business partnerships.
Planning.  Start your project right.
Service Culture.  What your customers really want.
Move Your Money.
  Commentary.

Viewpoint for your business posts are presented to provide information and perspectives pertaining to business, and specifically issues considered pertinent to readers interested in business trends and ideas.  As such, readers recognize that posts are not intended to represent "business advice" from Suffolk County National Bank or any of its subsidiaries.