Sales excellence – listening is not a spectator sport

Active listeningListening isn’t a spectator sport.  You have to get in the game.  You must convert from thinking about listening as something that is passive – to something that is active.  Here are seven best practices to help salespeople do a better job at active listening:

  1. Make sure you understand what the customer is saying before you move on to the next topic – try summarizing.
  2. Ask the customer to expand on topics they position as high priority.
  3. Share your experiences with topics the customer raises to illustrate your understanding.
  4. Take notes to keep track of what is being said.
  5. Take into account not only what a customer says but also how it’s being said – like how they use qualifiers or evasive language.
  6. Listen for what is not being said.
  7. Turn up your listening volume when the customer introduces new challenges, high risks, and key opportunities.

Listening is one of the most under emphasized skills in selling.  We all know asking questions is a core competency but you cannot ask questions skillfully if you don’t listen.  Just as you can’t write if you don’t read – you can’t ask if you don’t listen.

Consider the Hundred Percent Rule – salespeople should take 100% of the responsibility for making sure the customer understands them. And take 100% of the responsibility for understanding what the customer says.

 Do you want to take a deeper dive into active listening, call planning and other sales skills? Click here.

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©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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