Listening to Solve vs Listening to Sell

Listening to Solve vs Listening to Sell, are the two ideas really different? We think they are. When you are listening to solve, you are focusing on your own experience. When you are listening to sell, you are listening to a prospect, taking in what problems they face, then later formulate solutions that are based on their needs, and not your own perception in the moment. 

The exercise below teaches you how to listen without solving. Because anyone can teach you how to listen to sell, that is part of discovery and standard sales training. Listening to not solve is the counterintuitive skill that is just as, if not more important. 

Let’s get started. 

Listening to Solve vs Listening to Sell Exercise

This is an exercise that requires group participation and can be conducted by leaders as well. It does not need special training. This is a positive psychology exercise that a lot of clinicians practice, because how hard is it, especially as a mental health professional, to not solve, but just listen. It can be really hard to keep quiet and not provide expertise or give advice or suggestions, however most times when some one in a professional or personal setting is sharing problems, they only want someone to listen. A listening approach is client centric, and that is what the demo and presentations need to be about, the client. 

  • Step 1: Partner Up. Grab a partner and establish order of storyteller and listener. 
  • Step 2: Come up with Hypos: Problems Common to Customers 
  • As an administrator of the exercise come have cards that instruct partners to have those assigned to listeners and listen and solve problem with SaaS 
  • Step 3: Hand out Cards with Instructions (instructions and tips below) 
  • Step 4: Clients or Storytellers share your problem in 5 minutes, be sure that you have a healthy number of complaints. This can coincide with objections or what you do actually sell. 
  • Step 5 Identify problem solvers and non problem solvers in the group, ask each to share their instructions 
  • Step 6: Evaluate from both perspectives how it felt and what you learned, and also how connected you are to the prospect. 

Listening to Sell Instruction Cards 

Your task is to allow the other person to tell you about his or her problem without jumping in to try to solve it. 


  • Stay present and engaged in the conversation. 
  • If your mind goes into problem-solving mode, come back to just listening.
  • Keep your lips closed and use body language such as nodding your head, maintaining eye contact, and leaning forward to show that you hear and understand what he or she is saying.
  • Notice the urge to jump in with advice and take a breath instead.
  • If what seems like a helpful solution comes to mind during the conversation, either store it in your memory for later or quickly write it down and then return to listening.

Listen to Solve Instructions

Your task is to hear about your partner’s problem and try to help your partner solve it.

Tips for being really insensitive to client concerns! 

  • Try to think of solutions while he or she is telling you about the problem.
  • Share your solutions to the problem as they come to you; don’t wait until the end of the conversation.
  • Google ideas as they come to you during the conversation.
  • Do not worry about eye contact or other niceties – the purpose here is to get your solutions across and solve your partner’s problem.

In this exercise, we pretty much lay out the ways to listen and how it feels when you are being sold to. Listening to Sell is about building a connection and going a step further than trying to give your two cents at the moment and figuring out how your product works to sell at that moment. Take a step back and allow your client to know you are listening and paying attention and then come back in your demo with the solution, that they can tell that you listened to them during discovery. 

Looking for more tips and exercises like Listening to Solve vs Listening to Sell? Follow along with us! 

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