George Whalin was the last guy you wanted sitting next to you on an airplane. George was a retail consultant and public speaker (and one of my inspirations). George loved retail. A vacation to him meant a trip to The Grand Bazaar in Turkey followed by a trip to their local mall to contrast the old with the new.
When George sat next to you on an airplane, he peppered you with questions. “What’s your favorite place to shop and why?”
That was the question he asked every flight into Michigan that got Bronner’s and Toy House included in his book Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America. When he heard the same answers over and over he knew those places must be special.
“The questions you ask are more important than the things you could ever say.” -Tom Freese
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” -Naguib Mahfouz
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” -Anthony Robbins
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” -Stephen R. Covey
One of the most important lessons George taught me was that every customer has a different need to fill. Every customer comes through the door for a reason uniquely their own. Our job as salespeople is simply to find out that reason. You don’t do that by talking. You do that by listening.
“No man ever listened himself out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge
“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of your job.” -Roy Bartell
George got to the top of his craft not because of what he said, but because of what he learned and the relationships he made. He knew how to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. He was fascinated by you. If you ever did sit next to George on an airplane, you probably still would consider him a friend.
“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them than you can in two years by making them interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie
Ask and listen. Your customers want to tell you why they are here.
PS I got all of the quotes for today’s post from a new book called Fired Up! Selling. It is the best quote book I have ever seen. (Disclaimer, I was one of over 1000 judges that got to help select the quotes for the book so I might be biased, but with that many business people choosing the quotes, you know the quotes are going to resonate. No, that is not an affiliate link. Just me telling you this book is cool and will make a great gift for someone you know. Shop local.)