Listening is about more than hearing the words being said. It’s also about more than body language. It’s not only about what is being said; listening is also about what isn’t being said.
It may not mean anything that your dream client doesn’t say anything about the other people whose support she will need if she is going to buy from you. It may not mean anything that she doesn’t reference the people who are going to be impacted the decision to buy from you—or how significant the change will be for them. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything that she hasn’t shared what other people on her team want or need, or whose support will be critical.
But the fact that nothing has been mentioned may be telling you that she can’t make the decision without her team, that she doesn’t care how the decision will impact people downstream, or that other people’s needs are going to be ignored. What isn’t said may be more important than what is said.
The fact that your dream client hasn’t raised any concerns about your ideas and your proposed solution may mean that they are perfectly comfortable moving forward and that you’ve hit all the right notes. Their lack of questions and challenges may mean that your solution is tightly aligned with their vision and that you have made it easy to say “yes.”
Even though your dream client hasn’t raised any issues doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Your dream client’s silence may indicate that they are uncomfortable bringing up things that you might perceive as negative. It may mean that they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Or it might mean that your proposed solution has caused them so much fear that they no longer want to move forward.
A quiet client in a discovery visit might mean that they don’t have any real compelling reason to change. Their silence may mean that they don’t have any real issues or challenges and that they are completely happy with their current partner. It could mean that they aren’t that into you.
Silence in a discovery meeting might also mean that they aren’t yet comfortable enough with you to start telling you about their challenges. It might mean that they need time to determine whether you are someone they want to pursue working with before they share more information with you.
Listening is a critical skill for salespeople. You need to hear what your clients and your prospective clients say. But you also need to listen to what isn’t being said. What isn’t said is sometimes more important than what is.
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