You may have heard of the term “active listening,” but are you really clear on its meaning? If not, you may be missing out on an opportunity to gain valuable insight that will allow you to demonstrate expertise and win over prospects. Nowadays, prospects can hop online and with a few keystrokes, gather information themselves, which often minimizes the role of the salesperson. But, by employing active listening, you can reclaim power in the relationship.
In an article for HubSpot, Pete Caputa writes that acquiring insight lends expertise to the seller, which in turn leads to establishing rapport and trust with prospects. But, many salespeople don’t know how to engage in active listening. As part of his all-inclusive active-listening “guide,” he explains that active listening is a four-step process, of which two steps are below
- Truly listen to the prospect. Stop talking and just listen. Reps are often so busy giving information that prospects never have a chance to chime in with their own. “…the best salespeople listen differently,” Caputa writes. “They forget about the script (and maybe even their own agenda), and really listen to the words and feelings that a prospect is conveying in their language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.” By doing this, reps also encourage prospects to open up and share, something prospects may not otherwise do if they feel the reps are only trying to sell.
- Feed back what you just heard.You can show prospects that you truly understand them by repeating key phrases and bits of information back to them. There are few ways to do this, including repeating what is said verbatim. This method is easiest but use it sparingly in a meeting (you don’t want to repeat every single thing that is said and sound automated!). Another method involves paraphrasing, which shows that you have internalized the information and can demonstrate your understanding.
Active listening is a valuable skill to hone, especially in the age of Google. Check out the rest of Caputa's guide to educate yourself on how to actively listen and how to use the skill to make sales.