I made thousands of cold calls to learn a crucial sales lesson. But the lesson is valuable beyond sales. It matters for everyone. Especially if you are (or want to be) a better leader.\nI\u2019m going to share that crucial lesson with you now.\nBut first, I need to let you know a little bit more about what I learned along the way.\nI learned that when you call someone out of the blue, it\u2019s hard to get their attention. This is true even after you manage to get past the screeners and voicemail boxes and actually get them on the phone.\nI learned that once you finally have someone live on the phone, you\u2019ve got just a few precious seconds to earn just a few more seconds of their time. Then you can use those few additional seconds to try and earn the next few. And so on.\nI learned that it\u2019s a long road to a sale. You need to make a lot of calls to get into a conversation. You have to have a lot of conversations to land a single meeting. You must hold a lot of meetings to get a chance to make a proposal. And you need to write a lot of proposals before you secure a contract.\nTo travel successfully down that path to make that sale, you need to be good at communicating.\nYou\u2019ve got to be clear and concise. You\u2019ve got to be smooth. And it helps to be at least a little bit charming in some way, to establish and build a relationship.\nYou must to be able to talk a good game.\nBut that\u2019s not the big lesson. The big lesson is in how you become able to talk a good game.\nIn order to be able to talk a good game, you must first master the skill of listening.\nThe big secret\nWhen you listen carefully and intently, people will convey lots of information.\nPeople are happy to talk about themselves, their challenges, and what makes their business work.\nIf you listen carefully, you can begin to understand how they think and feel about things.\nAs you talk to more people, you can begin to notice patterns. People who are in similar situations, facing similar challenges, can share a lot in common.\nNow when you speak to the next person, you might be able to better anticipate what they are up against. You might start to expect them to use certain words or phrases. You might even be able to predict what sorts of questions they will ask.\nAfter a while, you could get good at this. You might get so good that you start to predict more and more. You might even find ways to articulate things as good (or even better than) they can, because you have put a lot of time into listening and understanding what they are up against.\nThat is the magic of listening. It allows you to understand the other person\u2019s perspective. And once you understand that, you can talk to them in more relevant and precise terms. You can empathize with them about challenges. You can encourage them to achieve specific goals.\nAs you get better at listening, you get better at leading. Because you become a better partner to those you lead. You become better at working with them to analyze problems, spot opportunities, and co-create solutions.\nLeaders listen\nLeadership is about sales too, of course. To lead, you must win over people to a shared vision. You must influence them to consider situations and possible paths forward. Ultimately, you must close the deal and get them to take action, to support the vision and the strategy and to do the work needed to see things through.\nPeople are likely going to be reluctant to do all of that if you are not listening to them. And, without listening to them, you won\u2019t know enough about what to say.\nWithout listening, you won\u2019t know how to shape a vision that people can see themselves in.\nWithout listening, you won\u2019t know how to fully appreciate situations or potential paths forward.\nWithout listening, you won\u2019t know how to best motivate people to take action to do the work that needs to be done.\nKnowing what to say is always great. But you can never really know what to say as a leader unless you are listening. And listening carefully, all the time.