Most sales reps think that they they are good listeners. After all, who would want to admit otherwise? Unfortunately, not all people in the sales profession are as good at listening as they think they are. “Listening is a bit like intelligence–most everyone thinks they're above average, even though that's impossible,” writes Travis Bradberry in a recent article for Inc. The good thing is that it is never too late to improve listening skills. Listening is one of the habits of top sales performers.
In his article, Bradberry shares seven habits of top sales performers to effectively listen to prospects and clients. Below are just three of his “straightforward strategies” for improving one’s listening.
Habits of Top Sales Performers
This seemingly simple habit of top sales performers may be the most difficult for some sales reps to achieve. When others are talking, especially during a one-on-one conversation, it can be tough to reign in your mind. Most sales reps immediately start thinking of their own reactions to what the speaker is saying and how they'll respond. Instead, you need to take the time and make the effort to really focus on what the speaker is saying. You also need to pay attention to how he or she is saying it. When you do this, you will fully absorb the message they are trying to communicate. And you will pick up on tone of voice or body language nuances that will give you more insight into how your prospect is feeling. For example, if they are talking quietly or seem to be attempting to take up as little room as possible, they are uncomfortable. Now, you need to listen to what they have to say and focus on making them comfortable when you form a response.
Put the Phone Down
There is no way you can give your full attention to a speaker if you keep glancing at your phone. Leave it in your pocket or bag during the meeting. One of the habits of top sales performers is to limit distractions during sales meetings.
Practice Reflective Listening
Reflective listening is defined as “the listening strategy of paraphrasing the meaning of what's being said to make certain you've interpreted the speaker's words correctly.” By using your own words to clarify what you have heard, you are not only confirming your own understanding, but also revealing to the speaker that you ARE listening and comprehending what they are saying to you. If your prospect knows you're paying attention to what they're saying to you, they'll start to trust you. And trust leads to sales.
Even if you think you are an excellent listener, it can’t hurt to consider Bradberry’s suggestions and use them as a guideline for your own behaviors. Plus, no one is a natural-born perfect listener. Listening is a skill that requires thoughtfulness, practice and consideration—in other words, you must hone those skills. “…effective listening isn't something you can do on the fly,” Bradberry writes. “It requires a conscious effort.”