Happy Ears – 2nd of the 10 Sales Competencies That Are Key to Building a Sales Culture

This article focuses our attention on the 2nd of the  10 Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture.

#2 Prevent Happy Ears

I recently wrote two articles on the subject; this article on the 5 Steps to Coaching Your People Beyond Happy Ears and this article, Is It Happy Ears or an Empty Pipeline?

So let’s explore a little more.

What exactly is a case of Happy Ears?  A salesperson has Happy Ears when she hears what she wants to hear.  Example: Your salesperson asks her prospect about the budget and the prospect says, “we’ll try to find the money”.  Your salesperson hears, “We have the money, and we will spend the money, and there isn’t a limit.”  Another example: Your salesperson asks his prospect who is making the decision and the prospect answers, “I’ll be involved.”  Your salesperson hears, “I’m the decision maker!” A third example: The prospect says, “We should do this.” Your salesperson hears, “We’re going to buy.”

Here are some of the things salespeople with Happy Ears tend to do:

  • make assumptions
  • accept vague statements
  • fail to question things
  • not ask specific questions
  • fail to make sure the answers are to the questions they asked
  • fail to make sure the answers were as specific as the questions
  • draw false conclusions
  • not ask the right questions about incumbents and competitors
  • not ask the right questions about motivation, incentives and reasons
  • not confront
  • never have the actual amount of money a prospect will spend
  • never have the time line for the decision right
  • never quite understand the concept of what can go wrong
  • see the world through role-colored glasses
  • be too optimistic

Ugly.  So what can you do about it?  Understand that many of the people with Happy Ears also have Need for Approval.  You have to help them overcome that before you can solve the problem with Happy Ears.  The fastest way to overcome Need for Approval is to have them use the Sales SNA Modifier twice daily for 3 weeks. Then begin interrogating your salespeople (who have happy ears) during post-call debriefs!  Ask every skeptical, doubting, question you can. Be consistent with the questions and the frequency of your interrogations.  Make your salespeople so uncomfortable that they start asking these questions themselves, just so they’ll have the answers to the questions they now know you will ask.  And then, finally, their happy ears may just begin to disappear.