Active Listening Skills – An important sales tool
Selling is the most advanced form of communication, it utilizes all our senses. Although you may feel that the greatest barriers to your selling performance may be attributed to having the wrong product, closing techniques, presentation tools or even prospects, consider that the foundation of successful selling is based on how well you listen.
Effects of poor listening
Listening well improves the quality of the relationships you have with clients, friends, co-workers or family members. Ineffective listening can damage relationships and deteriorate the trust that you have with your clients. The price of poor listening is many lost selling opportunities. It’s said that more than 60% of all problems existing between people and within businesses is a result of faulty communication. A failure to actively listen can result in mistakes and misunderstandings.
Eight Ways to Become the Most Effective Listener
- Encourage silence to show you are actively listening. Many sales people only wait a split second to respond to a client’s comments or questions. Instead, get in the habit of waiting a minimum of three to four seconds before responding.
- Never interrupt while the client is speaking. Obviously, what we were taught as children still applies. Enough said.
- Be present. Listen with an open mind without filters or judgment. Focus on what the client is saying instead of being concerned with closing a sale. This shows that you have a genuine interest in helping them, not just yourself. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing subtle nuances or inferences that could make or stall the sale.
- Make the client feel heard. This goes beyond simply becoming a better listener. It involves ensuring that the person to whom you are listening actually feels heard. To make someone feel heard, clarify what the client has said during the conversation.
- Asking questions and using clarifiers demonstrates your concern and interest in finding a solution for the client’s specific situation.
- Become a solution-oriented listener. Spend more time listening for a solution than you would on the problem.
- Listen for what is not said. What is implied is often more important than what is articulated. If you sense that the client is sending conflicting messages, ask a question to explore the meaning behind the words and the message that you think the client is trying to communicate.
- Resist the temptation to rebut. As human beings we have a natural tendency to resist any new information that conflicts with what we believe. Remember that you can always rebut later, after you have heard the whole message and had time to think about it.
- Listen for information. Consider that during most conversations with clients, we listen to information. In other words, we only hear their words. However, when you listen for information, you are looking under the words to explore the implied meaning behind them.
Listening is a learned and practiced skill that will open up new selling opportunities that you may have never noticed. It allows you to receive and process valuable information that might have been missed or neglected otherwise. So, invest the time needed to sharpen your listening skills.