Aug 17, 2016


By Brandon Souba

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across a post that was titled “One thing all successful sales people do” and I had to open it. I sold countertops for 8 years and loved it! So when I see any information on good selling I like to read it and see how my skills were.

Want to know what the one thing was?

Not to interrupt.

Sounds simple, right? If you google one killer sales skill, it will be listening. You will see the reference of “we have 2 ears and 1 mouth and should use then appropriately.”  This could not be more true! For those of you that know me, I like to talk. No I love to talk! So when I was new in the sales world there was nothing harder to do then wait for a full question to be asked before I answered it. Luckily I realized this early on and I could catch myself before I would interrupt the client, who was asking the question I had been asked 100 times and I already knew the answer. When I first started working on the skill of not interrupting, I physically bit my tongue. I figured the expression existed for a reason so I used the trick. I am sure I don’t need to say it, but it hurt! I had to use pain to stop me from talking.

Once I could get beyond biting my tongue and could control myself, then I was then called out by a client for my face expressions. No surprise here that even though I was not saying anything my eyes and smile were screaming “I KNOW THE ANSWER” because they stopped with the question and asked if I get this question a lot. Well I can’t bite my face to stop it from reacting right? After that appointment I started practicing a boring, straight, listening face when I was being asked a question. I practiced this on and off the field, not just with my clients but with my friends and family. I felt like I looked super boring and it felt odd for me to do, but I could tell it was reflecting to everyone that I was listening more to what they had to say.

After 3 years of sales I finally mastered the listening to a client and not interrupting them to answer their question. I got so good at it I could even hold back when the client was trying to think of a word, even if I knew what they were trying to say, I would let them find the word.  If you are in sales I would highly recommend you watch yourself on this. You can come off as a know it all, or it can feel as you are rushing though the appointment to go to the next client. Remember the most important client is the one in front of you!

So is this blog on not interrupting? Did you want to interrupt me and ask what this has to do with BNI at any point? Well if you are still reading here is the tie in!  By not interrupting I was listening. Listing to the full question, listening to all the details of the project, listening to the needs of my clients and not just assuming. Do you consider your members one of your most important clients? If you don’t you should. Your fellow member show up every week to be educated by you on your business and the referrals you are looking for to help you grow your business. I know most of the people that bought a countertop from me had no intentions of finding me more business. They may recommend me to friends that like the final project, but BNI members believe in Givers Gain. So it is not a “they might” but it is “they will” recommend me to help their friends and family and clients. To me, that makes them my most important client!

But how much do you listen in your meetings?

  • Have you ever checked your phone during the weekly presentation time in the meeting? 
  • Have you ever talked to the member next to you while some one was presenting? 
  • Do you write down people’s asks for the week? 
  • Do you scan the room for other people to talk while you are talking to a member during open networking?
All of those questions revolve around listening and respecting your members at your BNI meeting. Just like the client that called out my facial expression, your members see your action during the meeting. We need to be engaged at the meeting and show our members that WE are their best client. It won’t happen overnight. It took me 3 years to really master not interrupting and truly listening, but once I had it down it was a great trait to learn that I still use in my daily life. My wife may not agree and I may not always “bite my tongue” when we are talking about things, but I am working on that…

Try this out at your meetings if you answered yes to any of the questions above.

  • Keep your phone out of your view. If we can’t see it we are less likely to check it. For a while I would jump on Facebook after I gave my referral or testimonial. It became a reaction for me at that part of the meeting. Until one day, someone was passing me a referral and since I was on my phone I did not hear them talking to me. I never looked at my phone after that meeting. I have no idea what it did to my credibility with the other members, but I felt so bad on how I was disrespectful to my fellow members.
  • There were a few members I would not sit next to during the meeting because I knew we would talk to each other. When two people that think they are funny sit together, the goal is to make the other laugh. Not good when you are surrounded by your top clients right?
  • You can go to BNI Connect and print a roster of the members in your chapter. (Reports>Chapter Roster Report) Use this list of names and put it in an excel spread sheet and leave a blank rectangle after each name. You can write down members’ ask each week, so you can review them after the meeting. This will help you to always be listening for referrals when you are working with clients or spending time with friends and family.
  • There are so many education pieces about scanning the room when you are talking to someone. Give your full undivided attention to who you are talking to. It is respectful and you will gain credibility with that person. Plus you never know if the person you are looking for vs who you are talking to can provide you the same value. Focus on the now and who is in front of you. This was hard for me at first, but now I don’t stress over everyone around me and I truly enjoy my conversations better now with who I am talking to.
So your challenge is listen more and talk less. I find it no surprise that the trick to closing a sale after you present the cost is to sit back and let the person think about it. “Whoever talks first losses” is something I lived by! Now, buying a countertop from me was not losing in any way, but after I presented the price I would always shut my mouth and let my client say the next word. My dad told me my uncle sold insurance. I asked if he was any good at it and he told me my uncle would talk the client out of the sale. Sadly a lot of sales professionals do this. That story helped me understand the power of listening and letting the client think before we talk further.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”   ~Winston Churchill