Practice these 3 skills to improve your listening skills in sales.
Are you having a difficult time closing your customers?
Maybe you’re finding you’re getting a lot of objections during the sales process. Or, maybe you’re finding customers are upset once they do sign with you because what they’re receiving is not what they expected.
You can relieve all of these different challenges, just these different issues in sales, if you learn how to listen effectively.
In fact, I’ll suggest that by practicing listening and really perfecting your listening skills, you can improve your closing ratio, reduce your objections, and ensure that almost every customer is a top customer (somebody that you look towards for referrals and introductions!)
In this post, I’m going to walk you through the three different steps or stages that you can apply in order to improve your listening skills as a sales professional.
Importance of Listening Skills in Sales
I have to be honest with you. When I began in sales, I was so stuck on my process. I was so worried about the next steps, that rarely did I really listen to the people I was in front of.
I can tell you about multiple meetings I had with very solid buyers (people that could buy from me), but the meetings went nowhere. I was so stuck in my head, I wasn’t really listening.
It’s listening that allows us to really frame up our conversations.
When we ask questions, listen for the response, and then pause, it suggests to the person that you’re thinking about what they’ve said. You’re giving thought to what they’ve said, which means that they’re important.
If we listen, we can take that information and reframe what we’re going to say, which really sets up the sale so that we can close it faster, without issue.
You need to master questions. But, you also need to practice listening skills in sales, which is the topic of this post. Let’s get into the first thing I want you to do in order to be a more effective listener in sales!
Top 3 Listening Skills for Sales Professionals
1. Use the Countdown Method
If you’re really social person, listening might not come naturally to you. That’s not to insult you, but it’s to say that social people like to talk often times more than they listen.
Here’s something you can do to ensure that you listen. Use what I call the countdown method.
When you ask a question of somebody, count slowly in your head: “One-1000, two-1000, three-1000, four-1000”.
I can almost promise you if you ask a question and you count at that speed, by the time you hit four, they will have said something.
You see, not only do many of us in sales like to talk, but we don’t like silence, which means we’ll ask a question.
“You know, when do you plan to introduce this product into your business?… And let me just add to that… And because,… you know, …we can get it to you sooner, …is that going to be good enough?”
See what happens?
We don’t like the the silence. It’s the silence that allows us to really learn what’s going on.
It’s the first step in listening. I can’t listen if I don’t stop talking to you.
So use the countdown method to help you pause and to not be so concerned about jumping into that silence.
It will ultimately allow you to learn more about the priorities and needs of your buyer.
2. Paraphrase Their Words
The second tip I want you to practice in sales is important not just for listening, but to make sure you set up the sale such that you have satisfied customers.
I referenced this briefly in one of my other videos in how to deal with a challenging customer.
It’s paraphrasing. At the end of every brief discussion, stop and paraphrase.
You might do this two or three times during the meeting. And then again, at the conclusion of the meeting.
For example, I might ask you some questions, you provide some answers, we might have some more questions, some more answers. And then I might say, “Well, let me just paraphrase what I’ve understood so far.”
And then you read off your notes. (You are taking notes, right?) You’re going to want to write these things down so that you can go back and refer to this later when you put your quote to your proposal together.
Make sure you practice paraphrasing . You might do this two to three times during a one hour meeting.
At the end of meetings say: “I just want to summarize everything we’ve talked about here today.” Then go through the points that you’ve written down.
This is a chance for the buyer, your prospect, to clarify anything you missed, or state something that’s really important to them. Just to make sure you highlight it through paraphrasing.
This next one might not seem so interesting, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this.
3. Ask Questions
If you’re trying to listen and listen carefully to your buyer, you’ve really got to be prepared with some good questions.
What I suggest you do is before every meeting, go in with a handful of questions that you want to ask your buyer.
Now, if you’ve been selling for a while, you’ll say you don’t need to write these down. I ask the same questions every time.
Okay, that’s fair. But I’m sure there’s some nuances that you want to flush out based on each specific customer, at least there should be.
That’s how you make your solution, your product, your service appear to be something that’s a customized solution (even though it might not be) by digging deep with questions.
Make sure you write down or script out some questions that you want to ask. And it’s okay in the meeting if you have to look down at your book or your notes and say, “You know, there’s something else I wanted to ask you. Just let me take a quick look here.”
It shows your prospect, your buyer, that you’ve taken the time to prepare and that you’re investing time in this conversation.
It really tells them that what they’re telling you is important.
Under each question, leave yourself some space to write those notes. This reinforces listening.
When I ask you a question and it’s a good one, and you give me an answer, and I write down some notes, it really ingrains the answers in my brain. By writing stuff down, it allows us to recall this information in a way that will ensure it remains with us. Which means we’ll have better conversations.
We’ll remember each customer and they will stand out to us. That is all of the intel we need to make sure that we close these sales faster and really that we avoid objections because we’re asking better questions. We’re taking notes, and we’re following up.
Now, if you want a way to track your questions and really tie all this in with your daily prospecting and selling activities, make sure you click the link in the next paragraph.
I’ve created for you what I call the 30-Day Sales Action Planner. If you’ve watched my other videos, you’ve heard me talk about it. So why haven’t you downloaded it?
That is a resource I created. You can print it off, you can use it in Adobe, whatever you prefer.
The goal, however, is to give you a tool that can track your progress, and you can take your notes all in one place. So make sure you click the link down below and download your copy. An obligation, no cost, something I put together just for you.
If you’re trying to improve your listening in sales, your need to get better at being influential. Questions, listening and influence all work together, ultimately, in order to make sure that we are more effective in selling to others.
And until next time, let’s get out there and go sell something. We’ll talk to you again soon. Take care.
© Shawn Casemore 2023. All Rights Reserved.