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Becoming an Active Listener

What makes a top class salesperson? What is the quality that all of the very best salespeople demonstrate above all else? I have heard many business owners and managers say that ‘the ability to talk and present’ are they key attributes that good salespeople need to possess. While it is certainly true that these qualities are important in the sales process, by far and away the greatest quality these top people possess is the ability to listen.

We all say we listen to what other people say but too few of us demonstrate or utilise active listening – or really listening. You see, much of the time when someone else is talking are we really listening to what he/ she is saying or are we thinking about what we say next? Be honest! Fifteen minutes into a customer meeting/ presentation could your attendees remember what the customer said ten minutes ago? Perhaps they could but chances are there will be little or no recollection of what was actually said by the customer. Is this a problem? The top salespeople would say so because of two things:-

    1. The customer may have given clear insight into their requirements and needs going forward that may have been overlooked.

    2. The customer may not feel that they are REALLY being listened to because they have heard/seen nothing from your team that illustrates that.

If a customer is imparting information (i.e. talking – and that could be the first challenge) it is well worth listening actively and proving that you are doing this. How? Here are some tips on how to illustrate this:-

  • Make notes – don’t rely on memory – you are not a stage act! You are trying to fashion a solution and a positive outcome for all
  • Learn how to make notes while still indicating through eye contact and body language that you are fully tuned in to the customer
  • Respond with comments like ‘earlier on you said that (referring to your notes) you were looking for a top quality product/ service – can you expand on what you consider a top quality product/ service will deliver for you?’ The benefits of doing this are immense – you get even more specific information and the customer genuinely sees that you are truly LISTENING to what they have said – that makes them feel respected and good
  • Once you have this key information as in the point above – you can progress to action steps like ‘if we were able to provide a product/ service that offers you the things you mention as important, would you be interested in hearing about it?’

This all seems so straightforward and simple – it is not – salespeople who excel at this learn the techniques, practice these techniques consistently and these techniques then become habit. As Gary Player, a famous golfer once said ‘the more I practice the luckier I get’.

Another challenge of course, before active listening can be practiced, is to get the customer to impart information in the first place – we’ll cover how to get customers to give you that key information that precedes active listening in our next article – ‘5 best friends & how to use them’

For a no obligation meeting/ discussion on how to improve your sales performance, contact us at:ignite@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk or call us on: 0116 232 5231

Alternatively, contact me directly using the details below.

David Turner

Managing Director

david.t@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk

07747 023610

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