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Milind Katti

COO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm

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    You may be hearing and seeing a lot of things Key Account Managers, but what most of you need to up your quotient on, is listening. We have heard a lot of talk on listening. But have we started practicing real listening? We have probably not, because, in sales, we are more interested in giving our sales talk, than hearing the customer out. We are focused on one thing – to make sure that whatever we have practiced as a sales pitch should not go unsaid, that we should not be missing out on the important parts.

    So what is listening?

    The real meaning of listening is to listen patiently to the customer so that you understand what he is saying or what he is trying to say but is not voicing it. Not all customers or people are explicit or matter-of-fact, when they are talking, you have to learn to ‘read between the lines’ when your customer is talking.

    This will help you understand him, his perspective, his need; this will help you assess the situation overall. This will help you tailor your pitch to suit the situation and the customer, and we promise; it will be more effective than a ready-made, standard pitch. The unfortunate truth is that, how much ever we talk about listening, it needs to be taught with examples. A daily has quoted that 2% of salespeople are taught ‘listening’ formally.

    Here are some eye-openers, err, ear openers on listening:
    • We derive 55% of a message’s meaning from the speaker’s facial expressions
    • 38% comes from how he says the message that is his tone of voice and just 7% from the actual words spoken!
    • 50% is how much information we usually recall immediately after we listen to someone talk.
    • We can listen at twice the rate than a person can talk.
    How to listen and handle a call well.
    • Listen without interrupting – Initiate the conversation and then sit quietly, listening to the customer intently.
    • Acknowledge what is said – Acknowledge what the customer has said. This does not always mean you are in agreement. This just shows that you are listening, which is enough to keep your customer talking.
    • Ask questions – Ask questions to get clarity on what the customer is saying. This way you will learn more than the obvious.
    • Recap and restate – If there is an objection raised, or if it is something the customer is saying, restate it to be on the same page with him and let him know that you are on the same page.
    • Address and overcome – Don’t beat about the bush. Tackle the objection directly by using factual information. For this, you will need to have the product information and the knowledge at your fingertips.
    • Close – Very, very important. Do not leave any loose ends. Close that particular meeting by stating clearly the next steps expected and from whom. Be polite but the state. Move the sale forward in its journey.
    • Correct course, if need be and commit – A sale is never a one-time ‘Hit the bull’s eye’. It takes time. Often, in the journey, the customer will add different inputs that will change the course of your plan. Moreover, will mean that you will have to correct the course, Be patient. Don’t be in a rush to commit just so you can close it. Show your willingness to alter and present again, but with clear timelines specified.

    I hope these were some handy tips to learn and practice the art of listening and ensuring you engage correctly with your customer and add to the sales effectiveness during every customer interface. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, as it is said. The sooner we practice using our two ears, fully, we get closer to our sales objective. You can also download our whitepaper on the Hype & Art of KAM.

    P.S- Have you ever wondered, How many Key Account Management professionals are there around the world?

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    About The Author

    Milind Katti

    COO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm

      Milind is the COO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. He co-founded DemandFarm to build smart software technology to bring Account Planning and Relationship Intelligence into your CRM, making Key Account Management data-driven, predictable and scalable.Milind has close to 25 years of experience in sales & marketing. He is an Electronics & Communication Engineer with MBA in Marketing. He enjoys long-distance running, loves reading history, and above all else, he is a humanist.