Listen Up! Here's How to Gain a Competitive Sales Advantage
Only 26% of buyers believe sellers are competent listeners. The same research showed that 68% of buyers are highly influenced by sellers who listen to them.
This means that sales reps who develop excellent listening skills have a competitive advantage and are more likely to win their prospects’ business. It's that simple: intently listening to what prospects are saying can make the difference between winning the business and losing to the competition.
So, listen up—If you want to be the salesperson prospects are eager to speak with and win more business, you need to sharpen your active listening skills.
What is active listening?
Active listening is more than only hearing the sound of another person’s voice. It is the act of full, uninterrupted engagement, by not only hearing but feeling what they have to say. Rather than thinking about what you want to say next, you remain completely attentive.
Then going a step further to acknowledge that you are hearing them, gain deeper insights, and demonstrate understanding. This understanding and insights come not only from spoken words, but from the speaker’s behavior, tone of voice, and body language.
How to actively listen
Developing the skill of active listening takes practice. It requires you to put your own agenda on pause to focus on understanding what your prospect is telling you. Here is what you need to do to get started.
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage your prospect to talk.
- Assure the speaker that you’re following what they are saying by providing verbal confirmations such as "uh-huh" and nonverbal cues like head nods and eye contact while they are speaking. With some practice, you’ll be able to do this at times that don't interrupt the buyer’s train of thought but encourages them to fully express their thoughts.
- After your prospect finishes responding to your question, ask a clarifying question to gain deeper insights into their initial response. This shows you were listening carefully, demonstrates your interest in learning more, and lets them know you want to help.
- Continue asking clarifying questions until you have a clear picture and understanding.
- Then, provide a recap to your prospect to gain confirmation that you heard them correctly. This ensures you have all your facts straight and avoids misunderstanding. Repeating the prospect’s key points along with their meaning makes them feel heard and understood. This strengthens your relationship with them in the long run.
Continue in this manner until you’ve covered all your open-ended questions and gathered sufficient information to advance the sales process.
Why does active listening improve sales?
Active listening is effective at improving sales because it differentiates you from what prospects and buyers have come to expect from sales reps. Remember, they don’t think you’re a good listener because, historically, salespeople have been known to talk too much and can’t wait to pitch their product.
There’s nothing wrong with pitching when the time is right. But doing so without knowing enough about the prospect’s needs, challenges, and goals, makes it impossible to know how and if your product is the best solution for them. Plus, you can’t give a meaningful or useful demo without understanding the buyer’s pain points. Ultimately, sales success is the result of effective information gathering and the rep who knows more about the prospect wins the deal.
Practicing active listening simplifies the process of gathering all the information you need to craft a solution that best matches what your prospect is seeking. Plus, the buyer will feel more comfortable with you, knowing that their circumstances and wishes are understood. This helps them feel valued, builds trust and a connection, and improves their experience by showing them you care and want to help. As a result, they feel more comfortable and are more willing to share more with you.
Learning to listen intently to prospects with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding and insights builds trust and a stronger buyer to seller relationship. Practicing active listening differentiates you from the competition and arms you with more meaningful information about the prospect. Ultimately this makes it easier for you to close more deals with perfect-fit prospects. So, start practicing your active listening skills to stand out from the crowd.
Interested in improving your listening skills? Book a demo with a member of our team to see how Jiminny can help you improve your listening to win more business.