By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach TM
Selling is the most advanced form of communication. It requires the utilization of all our senses. Although you may feel that the greatest barriers to your selling performance may be attributed to having the wrong product, closing techniques, presentation tools, or even prospects, consider that the foundation of successful selling is based on how well you listen.
The ability to actively listen has been proven to dramatically improve the capabilities of a professional salesperson. Ironically, listening is the least developed skill amongst salespeople.
Were you formally trained to listen? Chances are your answer is no. Very few of us were formally taught effective listening skills. Most of the time we believe listening is simply hearing the words coming out of the client’s mouth. However, if we know that effective listening makes a dramatic difference, why don’t we listen better?
To listen actively and thoroughly takes concentration, hard work, patience, the ability to interpret other people’s ideas and summarize them, as well as the ability to identify nonverbal communication such as body language. Listening is a both complex process and a learned skill; it requires a conscious intellectual and emotional effort.
The Price of Poor Listening
Listening well improves the quality of the relationships you have with clients, friends, co-workers, or family members. Ineffective listening can damage relationships and deteriorate the trust that you have with your clients. The price of poor listening is many lost selling opportunities.
It’s said that more than 60 percent of all problems existing between people and within businesses is a result of faulty communication. A failure to actively listen can result in mistakes and misunderstandings. Read the following questions and ask yourself if any of them apply to you or to how you listen.
Eight Ways to Limit Our Ability to Fully Listen
- Are you doing something else while the client is talking? Are you thinking about the next call, how much money will be made if you make the sale, or personal concerns?
- During your conversation with a client, do you wait for a pause so that you can spit something out?
- How difficult is it for you to stay quiet? Do you talk without thinking beforehand?
- Do you fake listening to the client just so you can get in your comments?
- Do you practice selective listening? Do you only hear the things you want to hear?
- Are you aware of the message that the person is sending apart from their words? Are you attentive to their body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and vocal intonation?
- Do you allow background noise or your environment to hinder your ability to listen?
- Do you listen through filters? When you listen through a filter, your understanding of what you have heard is based on past experiences or beliefs. When you pass judgment on people because of their age, success, or how they look; when you invalidate people based on what you see or based on a similar situation with another client, you build the wall between yourself and the other person and block clear and open communication and understanding.
If any of these behaviors seem familiar, you are creating a barrier that limits your ability to fully and actively listen. As a result, you’re probably not maximizing your sales effort — or your income. Here are a few tips to become a more effective listener: