The ability to listen effectively is an acquired skill. It takes time to get it right and when you do, I believe a salespersons a career can and will really take off. Why do I suggest this to the sales community? Simple-its true.
Great listeners make great money.
Sales professionals have all made a very common mistake. We are “listening” to a client but what we are actually doing is formulating an answer to the question, and the next seven questions before the client even finishes the current thought! The thing is, while we are so busy figuring the out the answers to all of the coming questions, and trying to prove how brilliant we are, we miss the actual point the client is on! I have seen this many times (and been guilty of it).
Good listening skills are easy to learn and practice. There are many books on the subject, so I am not going to reinvent the wheel and try to teach you how to listen more effectively, but here are a few suggestions derived from my observations from coaching sales reps:
- Before the call, take a deep breath and remember that you need to listen. Yes, its ok, to remind yourself to listen. I do it all the time.
- Be careful not to have any negative body language such as crossed arms or a frown. These are non-verbal cues of someone not listening.
- Make good eye contact. This is huge and really sends a strong message you are listening and not tuned out.
- Repeat to the client what you have heard and check for understanding. This demonstrates listening and caring.
- Take notes. Make sure you verbally recap with the client before you leave and follow up with a good e-mail about what you heard as you listened to the client.
- Excellent listeners create a conversation with their clients by thoroughly listening and asking good questions based on that listening. When you are effectively listening, you will ask the right open-ended questions. It’s a natural outcome of listening well! The client will now engage with you on a deeper level. Conversely, if you are not listening, your client will see that immediately.
If you are listening powerfully, the sales call will lead to more sales and your client will be more comfortable networking you into more stakeholders in their company.
Listen, listen and listen more. Remember, there is no prize for talking more than your client!
As always, let me know what you think.