Yes, sales pitches can be soooo boring!

Peter, I have been thinking.

Waw, boss, you want me to set up a press conference?


Well, this is big news, you thinking. I am sure you want the world to know.

Very funny, Peter.

You sort of asked for it, Boss. Now, what is it you were thinking?

What is the hardest part of being a sales person?

Well, you know, the constant pressure to make the numbers, boss.

I understand that, Peter, but I was more thinking of what is the most difficult thing for a sales person to do?

Well, if you put it like that, I would say be optimistic all the time, you know, act the can do show all the time. Sometimes, I really hate my job.

Interesting comment, Peter. And probably honest.

Life can be tough sometimes, boss. Now, what do you think is the most difficult thing about selling, boss?

Thanks for asking, Peter. I think listening is the hardest part.


Yep. You can’t sell without really listening to your customer.

That’s what you always tell me.

I have come to the conclusion that listening is extremely difficult.

Waw, you really have been thinking, boss.

I quite often catch myself not listening at all. I act as if I am listening, nodding, rephrasing, taking notes, that is what I do, but really listening? Taking in the words, reading the behaviour, understanding what a customer is really saying? Looking for the need behind the need? Scratching the surface, peeling the onion?

Well, we usually know what they are going to say, don’t we.

We think we know what they need, so we don’t take the trouble to really look into their requirements. We listen with a filter of prejudice. We hear what we want to hear, and when we hear things that more or less resemble our products, we start talking. Boy how we love to talk.

Yep, you love to talk, boss. I once followed a sales training, the Challenger Sales, and that guy said we need to tell the customer what he needs. The customer is ignorant, he doesn’t know what he needs, and we need to tell him that.

That is a sure road to failure, that is.

Sounded quite convincing though.

Sure, all sales people would like that. Do their pitch, and get away with the order. But that is not how it works. Those challenger guys forget an important thing.

And what is that, boss?

That their pitch is usually very boring.

Yeah, that is true. Some sales people can go on forever.

By talking we are not listening any more, we might completely disregard the customers’  problem, and be on the wrong track. And not sell, in the end! Customers only react postively to arguments that are relevant and valuable to them. Not to us.

Are you saying that our inability to really, patiently, thoroughly listening prevents us from winning deals?

That’s a good summary of what I am trying to say, Peter. You are a good listener.

I am flattered, boss. Thanks for the complement. Now, what can we do about that? If listening more and better helps me to close deals, I am definitely willing to do that.

I think we need to approach our customers with an open mind, not with a ready set of ideas. I think we need to prevent ourselves from judging, from inducing our own ideas and assuming we know it all. Really listening goes against human nature.

So, basically, we need to completely rewire our brains.

That would be a good start, Peter. The reward will be huge!



For more sales stories: Jan Flamend. Keep calm and sell your socks off, 2014. Check it out on

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