Who You Listen to is Who You Buy From.

Who You Listen to is Who You Buy From.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

The dental hygienist said you need a better toothbrush. They had two on display. I bought the one she recommended, Sonicare. She said, “It’s the one I use.”

At the front desk, there were two other people with toothbrushes like mine. “We’re selling a lot of toothbrushes today.” Exclaimed the receptionist. “Do you do this every day?” I queried. “Oh yes!” she replied.I get my Sonicare toothbrush home and proudly show my mate. She exclaims, “That’s the same one I use. I’ve been telling you about it for months! Now some expert tells you to get it, and boom you buy it in a second. I was the one who told you about it first!”

Wow. How often does that happen?

Big Question: Why didn’t I buy from my mate? She was telling me to get the best. She was telling me for my own good.

Bigger Question: Why don’t you buy sales training from your boss or manners from your parents?

Here’s the painful answer:

In sales (and in life) we are told things by someone close to us (like parents, brothers, sisters, best friends or by our boss or co-workers), but ignore their advice, sometimes for years, UNTIL we hear it from an expert (defined as someone we respect but don’t know very well. Someone who is an authority in a specific field) and take immediate action because we listen with the intent to understand AND believe there is an immediate need.

We could have taken action years ago if we had just listened in a different way. We all tend to listen with the intent to respond. The more powerful way is to listen with the intent to understand. That’s why we follow the expert’s advice so fast – we’re listening because we want to understand.

Relating this to my girlfriend, as I thought this column aloud before writing, she added, “When I taught self-improvement to young girls, I would cover the fundamentals of entering a room – dress, posture, walking, personal pride, and self confidence. Mothers would ALWAYS tell me, ‘You know, I’ve been telling my daughter that for years and she never listened.'”

I wonder why? Maybe it’s the way parents tell their children how to do things (and bosses tell their salespeople how to do things). When the child is under two years old, parents tell everything with a gentle tone and 1000% encouragement behind their words.

Ever hear a parent telling (encouraging) their kid to walk? Remember this? (spoken in baby talk and repeated 10 times) “Come on angel you can do it. Come to mommy.” Until they walk, and then there is so much praise heaped on the kid you would think they won the Olympic gold – photos, call the grandparents – celebration that would rival the locker room after a Superbowl.

Then the second birthday passed, and the word “no” becomes dominant. You begin to order the kid around without a word or an ounce of encouragement (kind of like sales managers treat salespeople). In fact, you then begin to threaten with punishment – dumb move. Imagine saying to your one year old, “If you’re not walking by the end of next week, no college!” It’s the same with telling them to stand up straight or get good grades or later in life (the post business card era) make a sale or meet a quota.

What’s the remedy for the advice giver? The remedy is one you already know, and has already worked. If you say it with encouragement and reward it with hoopla, you will get positive action. If not, you will lose, and lose respect.

SECRET: Treat everyone like a one year old, just drop the baby talk.

And for the person who doesn’t listen? The one being spoken to, advised, ordered, commanded, ridiculed, threatened. For the years of not taking action because you already know everything or have no respect or contempt for the person offering the wisdom – who loses? Stubborn or ignored advice can (has) cost you.

For me it was improper brushing causing cavities – not the end of the earth – but it could have been avoided if I didn’t already know it all and just listened. I should have listened with the intent to understand. For others (not you, of course) it’s lifelong consequences, or loss of job, or lower skills. Too bad.

When do you (take) buy advice? Why do you buy from experts and not from parents or bosses? Maybe it’s the old adage familiarity breeds contempt. Maybe your parents or boss says so much crap, that when the jewel slips out – you’re not listening. Whatever the reason, the opportunity for self improvement is lost, maybe forever.

What’s the remedy for the listener? You already know the remedy. You practice it every time you listen to an expert. Listen with the intent to understand (not respond), and take action to better yourself every day. Think: what can I do for me today?

  • What advice that you gave would have been taken had you imparted it with encouragement and rewarded it with hoopla? Lots.
  • What could you be doing better if you had just listened with the intent to understand? Lots.
  • Both seem so simple, why don’t you do it? And what do you need to do to change your present habits? Lots.
  • Selling and listening are sisters. Blood relatives who count on each other for success. And you always listen to your sister, don’t you?


Want to be a better listener? Sure you do. You can have the 10 listening rules PLUS a skill building listening lesson. Just go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user and enter LISTEN in the GitBit box.