Active listening in sales is the key to your success in the profession. By observing and truly understanding your client, you can close more deals and build better relationships. Here’s everything you need to know about active listening in sales.
What is Active Listening in Sales?
There are four steps to active listening:
The four steps of active listening are:
1. Listen to your caller- give your full attention and really understand what they are telling you.
2. Repeat what the caller is saying- tell them you understand what they are feeling and what they are talking about.
3. Clarify your understanding- ask relevant questions to make sure you understand the situation.
4. Provide a solution- based on your understanding of the situation and your knowledge of your product, offer your solution to their problem.
Active listening is an important skill for sales professionals, but it’s often difficult. Salespeople tend to focus too much on their own turn to speak or what they’re going to say, rather than really listening to what the customer is saying. This behavior can miss out on key opportunities to build trust, understand customer needs, and show that you empathize with their point of view.
As an excecutive sales coach, active listening skills are one of the first things you train our sales team members on. This not only helps them on their initial sales calls with potential customers, but throughout their entire sales process.
Active Listening Best Practices
Here are some of active listening techniques.
1. Listen intently to the prospective customer
Sales reps often make the mistake of not listening carefully to what a prospect says. They instead wait for specific words or phrases that tell them whether or not they should buy.
This salesperson is acting more like a dog waiting for their master’s commands than a professional.
When salespeople act subservient to a prospect, it makes them seem more like a pet than a person. This usually results in the prospect feeling like the sales rep is only out to sell to them, regardless of whether or not it’s in their best interest. This is usually a losing strategy.
It’s usually a downward slope that ends in failure.
The best sales people forget about their scripts and agendas, and concentrate on really listening to what the prospect is saying. They pay attention to their tone, their expressions, and their body language.
By reading your prospect through more than just their words, you can gain a better understanding of their current situation. This will allow you to empathize and show that you care, which builds trust.
Listening to your prospect’s specific needs, concerns and questions will help you to gain their trust.
When you’re on the phone with or meeting with a potential client, it’s crucial that you pay attention to what they’re saying. This can be difficult to do when there’s noise or people around, but it’s necessary. It’s also important that you stop trying to memorize a script. Instead, just focus on the conversation with the prospect.
2. Give the prospect some feedback
After your prospect says something that indicates what their needs are, repeat it to them.
Your goal is to let them know that you understand their situation.
Inside sales people must communicate nonverbal cues over the phone.
I cover three methods you can use to send your prospect to voice mail:
There are three ways to handle an objection: repeat what the person said, paraphrase it, or put it in your own words. I personally prefer the latter approach as it allows you to show that you understand their problem and that you can sympathize with them.
By summarizing what your caller says, you’ll make a good impression right away. Most callers aren’t good listeners, so they’ll be grateful that you’re listening carefully and recapping.
It’s important that your prospect feels heard and understood. This is key in the convincing process. Make sure to not leave this to chance.
3. Confirm that you have heard your prospects correctly
This crucial step is often missed.
After paraphrasing what your prospect said, you should ask them if you understood them properly. If they say you didn’t, you can follow up with them to clarify. This will help you make sure you understand their needs.
Notice how they ask questions to prompt you to give them genuine, constructive feedback.
Instead of asking questions that put your caller on the spot, I suggest not asking them anything. Asking questions such as “Does that sound good?” or “Can you explain that further?” will only make your callers frustrated.
According to VP of Sales at Gordon Training, when you get it right, you’ll know it. The other person will tell you by telling you, “yes, that’s it” or “exactly, you’ve hit the nail on the head.” Or they will nod their heads enthusiastically.
If you’re not listening to them, they may tell you. They might say, “No, that’s not it. It’s more like …” or give you a look of confusion.
Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll create the illusion that you’re on the same page as your prospect. Studies have shown that we like to be surrounded by people who agree with us.
When you repeat what your prospect has said and then confirm that you’re on the same page, it creates a confirmation bias in their mind. Studies have found that we tend to surround ourselves with people who think like we do. This builds trust between you and your prospect.
4. Follow-up with a relevant question that prompts the prospect to continue the conversation.
After you’ve confirmed what you’ve learned from the prospect, it’s time to ask a pertinent follow-up question that will move the conversation forward.
Don’t ask questions that sound like you’re trying to close the deal.
Instead of asking questions that can easily be answered with a yes or no, try to ask an open-ended question that will encourage your prospect to open up and share more about their current situation and goals.
Asking open-ended questions allow your prospect to express their thoughts in their own words. This allows you to get a better understanding of their thought process and how they view the situation.
By asking the right questions, your prospects might start coming to their conclusion, or they might even come to the conclusion that they need your solution.
Asking your prospect to think critically about their situation out loud gives you a better chance of uncovering the reasons they would or wouldn’t buy from you. This allows you to tailor your sales pitch more specifically to them, and increase the likelihood of making a sale.
Why is listening important in sales?
Listening is important for sales success because it allows you to understand the buyer needs and wants. It also allows you to build rapport and trust with the customer. Lastly, listening gives you the opportunity to address any concerns the customer may have.
How do you actively listen in sales?
Active listening is a skill that can be used in any conversation, but it is especially important in sales. Active listening involves giving your full attention to the person you are talking to, making sure you understand what they are saying, and responding in a way that shows you have heard and understood.
It can be helpful to repeat back what the person has said, or ask questions to clarify anything you are unsure about. Active listening shows the person you are talking to that you value their input and are interested in what they have to say.
Why is it important for a salesperson to listen and observe?
A salesperson needs to listen and observe in order to understand the customer’s needs. By understanding the customer’s needs, the salesperson can then offer a solution that meets those needs. If a salesperson does not listen and observe, they may end up offering a solution that the customer does not need or want, which could lead to a lost sale.
If you want to up your sales skills, start by becoming an Active Listener! By truly understanding your client’s needs and wants, you can build better relationships and close more deals. So if you’re not already practicing active listening in sales, now is the time to start!
Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?
LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.
Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:
- A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
- Who have more than 10 employees
- That spend money on Adwords
- Who use Hubspot
- Who currently have job openings for marketing help
- With the role of HR Manager
- That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!
We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!