Communicating with a prospect is like communicating with anyone else in your life, if you don’t listen effectively you will never reach the conclusion you want. It’s tempting to talk about yourself and your product or service and dominate the conversation. After all you think that the prospect is looking for information and you want to be sure they have everything they need to make the buying decision. But stop this thinking right now. You’ll find that listening is key to move the sales process along and ultimately close deals.
Here are ten ways that listening skills impact the sales process:
- Throughout the sales cycle the prospect provides clues. They will share with you their needs, likes, dislikes, concerns, challenges and more. If you aren’t listening you’ll miss most or all of this.
- Active listening clarifies your understanding. The active listening skill is perhaps the single most important sales skill to learn. It involves listening to a person, understanding what they’re saying, and responding with a brief summary of what they’ve just said.
- Active listening demonstrates you care. When you repeat back your understanding of what the prospect said it tells them not only that you are listening, but you generally care and want to get it right. Nothing builds rapport quicker than a prospect feeling heard and understood.
- Effective listening means being fully present. If you are really listening to someone you aren’t thinking about the next thing you want to say or the spat you had with your spouse this morning. The prospect knows when you are ‘with’ them, or not.
- Your questions will be tailored to them, not just general sales questions. Because the prospect provides a wealth of information to you, your questions will be tailored to what they are sharing, not simply the standard, and much overused sales questions.
- You’ll sense what they aren’t telling you. Listening involves more than what they are saying, it’s what they aren’t saying that can make the difference between a sale and no sale.
- Big emotional words have meaning. At times the prospect will use big emotional words that provide clues. Words such as fear, concern, uncertainty, discomfort and more can tell you a lot, but you have to be listening.
- Listening involves more than words. Tone of voice, body language, what is going on in the background such as typing if you are on the phone, all provide you information that can move the sales process along.
- Specific words have meaning. With effective listening you will hear specific words they use, and they may have meaning. Goals might be different than objectives. Strategic plan may be different than plan. Need may be different than want. Listening provides you the opportunity to hear the specific words they use and ask questions that help you focus on the solution that meets their needs.
- Objectives are less likely to occur. Objections are part of the sales process. And for the reasons already listed, listening builds rapport and rapport builds trust. Objections are often an indication of trust not existing rather than a real reason. Effective listening eliminates this problem.
In my opinion, the single biggest need human beings have is to feel heard, and understood. Hearing and listening aren’t the same. When others feel understood they relax and share more, which helps you learn what you need to close the deal.
Success in sales is in the information, this is where the power is. When you take the time to truly listen to your prospects, you’ll find they give you just about everything you need to move the sale along.