It Pays to Listen

A woman wearing a bikini inspects a salesman's...

Business Transactions Happen Everywhere

Good listening is essential to sales success.  If you don’t listen well, you’re likely going to struggle.  But I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about that today.  I want to point out to business owners that it pays for them to listen, too.  A lot of opportunity is squandered when you refuse to listen.  My argument here is simple.  Take time to hear a sales pitch.  You might learn something.

After years of working with mostly small businesses, I am amazed at how many of them are run by people who do not have even a basic grasp of small business fundamentals.  They don’t understand assets versus expenses or when an expense operates as an investment.  They wouldn’t be able to read a spreadsheet anyway.  And return on investment?  Forget it.  If a check is being written for anything, it is a loss. 

These business owners, but not only these business owners, would be in better shape, maybe even much better shape, if they listened.  It isn’t just a matter of listening to sales people, either; however I have to believe that if they don’t listen to me, they probably don’t listen to a lot of people with ideas for their business.  Even successful businesses can gain from listening.  And keep in mind that if you listen to someone it doesn’t mean you have to be swayed by what they tell you.  But let me say it again…you still might learn something.

Hell…when listening to a salesman you might get some competitive information about your market and your competition.  You might see what your competitor is doing to market his business, for example.  You might get an idea of what he is investing for that marketing exposure.  Knowledge is key, is it not?

But I am dealing with a lot of people who possess something like an eighth grade education.  They might have graduated from high school, but somewhere along the line the learning process shut down.  You see these people in college for that matter!  Now this is a slur and it isn’t meant to describe everyone, but you do have a lot of small business owners who are in business because either they inherited the business or they couldn’t find anything else to do.  I often question if these are the best ways to become involved in a business.  Even the kid who inherits the family business needs to care, right?  There are a lot of knuckle-dragging, mouth breathers with little or no passion about their business and that’s a problem from the get go.

I am going to pick on beauty salons again.  (Sorry.)  If I had a dime for every time a beauty salon owner told me he couldn’t afford advertising because times are tough but then told me he didn’t need to advertise because all of his customers came to him by referral, I wouldn’t be writing a blog about sales, I would be writing a blog about investing. 

Sometimes you just need to call people out on these logical inconsistencies, but you need to be careful about it.  For my part, I am not that good at it.  I tend to come across as condescending or as a know-it-all.  Truthfully, guys that more of jerk get this done better.  You kind of have to be able to tactfully say:  “Are fucking stupid or what?  Don’t make me come over there and hit you!  Christ!  Now shut up and look at this again.  Tell me, what about fucking advertising don’t you get you pea-brained moron!”  If you can find away to say that in a professional and polished way, you can win with these fools.  I tend to sound like this:  “You’re stupid.”  I’m missing the more insulting and crass part of the art.

But it shouldn’t be this way.  Why wouldn’t a customer see this for herself?  Well, there’s the rub.  In reality you are not addressing the business owners’ real objection.  They are afraid that they will lose even more money.  (Most of these knuckleheads are losing money because they couldn’t manage a paper route.)  But the problem starts before any objection is raised IF the business owner will not listen.

So here is the point — I’m growing tired of my condescending negative tone — there is something to be gained by listening.  Who is going to disagree with that?  Listening is different from answering.  You can always tell someone no.  But it is important to remember that we all don’t know everything about everything and there are many things yet to be learned.  Am I right or am I wrong?

Perhaps I am just growing weary of dealing with bumbling unsophisticated intellects.  But I do get to go on nice drives and visit nice parks!  Oh, boy…yesterday was a good one.  Many wonderful stops.  Perhaps I’ll write about that next in the Random Asides page.

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