Many times we go on sales calls and make a statement, ask a question, and then make another statement. After about 10 minutes of this, something becomes obvious. The prospect is not involved, not interested, and not likely to buy anything. No skill separates the good from the great in sales more than the ability to actively listen. Unfortunately, most sales people seem to regard listening as the time they take a break from talking. Mediocre salespeople treat listening as a lack of activity. Great salespeople treat listening as the single most important activity they do on a sales call.
If you are tired of making sales calls without making sales, listening may be the activity you are skipping. Make your next sales call better by doing a few things differently. When your prospect talks, just listen. Do not fidget. Do not look away. Do not plan your next question. Do not finish their sentence. Do not say “I knew that”. Really listen. Take notes. It flatters them and it will help you be a better listener. Hear and understand what a prospect is telling you. Of course, this assumes you are willing to take the risk to “sell”, without telling your prospect how great you are and how much you know. It may not feel like you are selling. But you will see a magical transformation. The more you let your prospect shine and become the center of the sales call, the more your prospect will find you valuable and your solution perfect for him. Active listening calls not just for listening but being able to paraphrase back in summary form to validate understanding.
The most common reason prospects cite for not buying from a salesperson is that they don’t believe the salesperson understands them or their business. Active listening is the cure for this. The 70/30 rule says the prospect should talk 70% of the time and the salesperson 30%. We don’t get to talk unless we have first listened. You have probably heard the expression, “He talked himself out of the sale.” I’m sure you’ve never heard the expression, “He listened himself out of the sale.” Your value as a salesperson is determined more by the information you get – not give.