Two ears and one mouth…. The key competence

Two ears and one mouth…. The key competence

I’m often asked what the key competence is for people in sales and client focused roles:


“What is the key skill we should look for when we are interviewing for a new hire?”


“What is the number one skill that person needs?”


“What is the differentiator between a good sales person and a great sales person?”


“What is the one skill they really need?”


So what’s the answer?


And the answer is simple. The answer is listening.


I’m not sure who said this: “If you want to find oil, you have to drill wells.” To sell something to someone, you need to find out what’s really important, what that person wants and what that person needs.


Listening is the ultimate core competence. We all know that to sell more you have to listen. Two ears, one mouth and all that, but are you doing it?


Sales has never been about the ‘gift of the gab’, but my word, do some sales people talk a lot!


When we talk we can’t listen


When we talk we simply can’t listen, and when we are not listening we are not finding out about the other persons experience, needs, reservations, buying clues and wants.


When we talk we shift the attention away from the other person and towards ourselves, and our offering. Towards our perception, not theirs.


You are missing the point. You are giving them the opportunity to disagree with you, and you are no longer guiding the conversation.


And what’s more, you then aren’t able to convince the other person of the best decision for them. Most people don’t think they talk too much. But, they do.


When you speak with your clients, try to listen to yourself (or tape yourself) – What is the quality of questions you ask? Are you asking information gathering questions to help you move forward? Are are you just filling an empty sound void?


Watch and listen to others around you. Stop talking and start listening.


Contact me


For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, or connect with me on LinkedIn.


I look forward to being in touch.



Read previous post:
Are you so busy you have dropped the new business ball?

  "How busy is your business with its current customer base at the moment? Are you flat out looking after...