Frequently salespeople are thinking about what they should or will say at the expense of what the customer is actually telling them. It’s no wonder so many sales calls fall apart after the salesperson misses a key point made by the prospect.
What a study shows
A comprehensive study completed at the University of Minnesota shows that sales professionals remember only about half of what is said to them during a simulated meeting. It also concludes that sales professionals can improve their listening skills simply by concentrating more on what’s being said to them rather than what they will say in response.
Prioritizing listening over talking in a sales situation is easier said than done. With practice and resolve, a salesperson can acquire the mental agility to become a better listener by mastering these six mental listening exercises:
- Listen ahead. Try to anticipate where a discussion is leading to during the prospect’s dialogue. Determining the conclusion in advance of your required response allows you to relax and improve information absorption.
- Periodically validate communicated information. By mentally striving to validate the accuracy and completeness of information points made by the prospect, you can allow yourself to absorb more information easier that may help you understand the prospect’s position better.
- Utilize active listening techniques. By periodically summarizing the major points communicated by the prospect and reaffirming your interpretation of the points made back to the prospect, you add a tremendous amount of clarity to the information exchange.
- Strive to understand versus “judging.” Be working to consciously understand what the prospect is saying versus the natural tendency of judging, approving or disapproving what’s said will allow you to absorb what is actually said.
- Use your eyes to “get the rest of the story.” By paying attention to the prospect’s body language, you can see what the whole body is trying to tell you, not just the mouth.
- Maintain a mental repertoire of common responses. By mentally developing and rehearsing how you’re going to strategically respond to common sales objections, you will be able to listen more effectively. A comprehensive inventory of common responses will also give you more confidence in any selling situation.
By practicing these six techniques, salespeople will realize that how they talk or present their product or service is relatively unimportant when compared to how and what they listen to.
Mark Smock is President of www.business-buyer-directory.com