Stop Selling and Start Listening!

26 Nov by Leanne Hudspith

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​I will never forget the day our Sales Training Manager from Atlanta stood up in front of the Australia and New Zealand sales teams and promptly said ”Stop Selling!!

This was my first ever “proper sales role”, and I was working for an amazing US-based company who specialised in small packages, and they were all about great training.  So what on earth was this man on about... "stop selling”!  Hang on a minute, isn’t that what my job was all about?

Oh how wrong I was… it was all about listening.  Asking the right questions, getting to know my clients business, finding solutions and a whole lot more.  I couldn’t have done that if I was trying to get my prospect to purchase a one size fits all product.

Here’s the thing about freight, actually any service industry – there is no one size fits all! Actively listening to what your client is saying, and dissecting the answers to really understand the client’s business – will give you a real sense of what’s important to him or her. 


Initially you need to ask reasonably transactional questions so we can quote the right destinations and the average size of each consignment.  Such as:

  • How often do you have a pick up from your store?

  • Where is your freight destined for?

  • What is the average size of your shipments?

But in order to build value in an intangible product, your questioning needs to be detailed and open to find the pain points: (And crucially – you’ve got to listen to the answers)

  • What is it you enjoy about your current providers service

  • What could they do better?  If they love their rep they may say, nothing everything is awesome.  Try a different tack…

  • If you were to rate them out of 10? – 1 being awful and 10 being outstanding – how would you rate them.  I have never had a 10! 

So, now you understand your competition has been rated an 8, you could head down the track with…

"With you rating your current supplier an 8/10 creates a 20% variance of what they could do better... what is it that makes up that 20%?"  



So often at this stage when you are challenging them to really find out what could be done better we follow it up with a closed question that will lead them towards the answer you want to hear!  And you have missed the entire opportunity!

Another tip worth mentioning is that there is a monumental difference between a transactional opportunity and a real opportunity to build a partnership!  Transactional sales are all about price, and you need to question whether you really want those customers in your portfolio.  My answer would be “no you don’t”.  WHY?  Because money motivators make for fickle clients!  What will happen is that the next sales person will come along, drop their price, and I’ll put money on the fact that they will jump!  One of the great sayings – not sure if it is mine or I borrowed it from someone, but “if you win on price you will lose on price”.  

A truth I have experienced time and time again after 25 years in sales, and sales management.

Ultimately we should really be called the Listening Team or Solution’s Team rather than Sales Team, as successful Sales People do just that! I often hear  “my sales style is that of a Relationship Seller”. What actually is a “Relationship Seller”?  I believe it is a person who listens to their customer and delves deeper to truly hear what the customer is saying…. and then delivers  the right solution for both parties concerned.


So guys and dolls get out there and be the best version of a successful Business Development or Account Manager.  It really is that simple... Stop Selling and Start Listening!!

Note: Not all of our sales opportunities are advertised (for various reasons) - if you have a sales background (particularly in Freight & Logistics) contact me to discuss your next move! Email Leanne or Phone Leanne