Active Listening: Are You Doing It?
Likely, sales reps have heard about the importance of active listening. But very few have probably taken the time to learn what it truly is, let alone hone it as a skill. That’s a mistake, according to Sales Training Specialists contributor Sean McPheat. The ability to be an active listener requires development and practice.
But, before you can learn how to do it, you must learn what exactly it is. McPheat defines active listening as:
“the concept of listening that keeps you engaged in a conversation in a positive way.”
He stresses the importance of positivity, which differentiates this from regular listening. Active listening involves:
- Being non-judgmental
- Being curious
- Asking questions
- Reflecting back
- Asking for clarification
- Summarizing the essence of a conversation
By engaging in active listening, you are embodying the professional sales rep, someone who truly values what their customer or prospect is saying. So, how do you practice this skill? Here are a few of his suggestions:
- Keep eye contact with the other person. You will send a message that you are interested in what is being said and their words are important.
- Watch non-verbal behavioral cues. Gestures and subliminal messages, like crossed arms or tapping your foot can speak volumes.
- Watch interviews on TV to see who does and who doesn’t practice active listening. Watching others in action will help you fine tune your own skills. “This will give evidence that you can become familiar with, and practice yourself,” he explains.
Check out McPheat’s entire article for all of his suggestions; you may be surprised at how easy it is to shift to active listening. As he writes, “Being self-aware could be the first step in improving your active listening skills.” The time and effort you put into developing as a listener can only increase your professionalism, your understanding of prospects and clients, and your role as communicator.