It is your experience (it’s certainly been ours) that in BTB sales target customers are increasingly turned off by the ‘hard sell’? In exploring this with customers that have been ‘sold at’ we hear things like ‘How can they assume that what they have fits what I need without taking the trouble to understand my business and the drivers behind what I’m looking for?’. We all instinctively know that BTB Marketing and Sales is often a lot more than delivering an ‘off the shelf product’, particularly as customers are more savvy buyers and tend to have more complex requirements.

In a Focus Group we ran for a client we heard the following gems from the customers/buyers attending the session, directed at our client:

‘Don’t bombard me with products I know you want to sell but I don’t need; if you give me good service on what I do need, we’ll buy more from you’.

‘I’m going to explain to you what I’m looking for (in a particular product area) – do me a favour, just listen and don’t try to retrofit what you think I need to suit the products you already have’.

Our experience is that marketing and sales professionals going for the hard sell often miss key needs and buying signals from the customer. They’re doing too much talking and not enough listening. So our mantras are ‘selling by listening’ and ‘less push and more pull’.

This also goes back to the key point about selling benefits not features – the hard sell will tend to be features based – ‘my product can do the following…’ whereas the listening approach enables you to draw out the benefits ‘I listened to what you said about what’s important to you and I think I can deliver this for you in the following ways………’.

Equally, the smart approach to presentations and pitches is not to go in with your standard set of slides – ‘I’ll get through my slides whatever happens’ – but to be armed with an interactive slide deck, so you have a dialogue with the customer, listen for potential areas of interest for them and buying signals, and introduce relevant slides and information that specifically address these areas of interest. We think this puts a very different stamp on designing and developing presentations, and has meant we’ve redefined how we work with clients to design their presentation materials and hone their presentation skills.


If you’d like to find out more about Selling by Listening, contact us on 01707 373700 or