As a salesperson, you know very well that today’s buyers are completely different than they were five or 10 years ago. They are no longer waiting by their phones for a salesperson’s call. Rather, they’re actively researching and gathering information about products via a multitude of digital channels.
In fact, today’s salesperson is often very much out of the picture. Research from the Corporate Executive Board indicates that buyers are more than halfway through the buying cycle before they even reach out to a salesperson. Thanks to today’s more self-directed buyer, salespeople are reevaluating their strategies.
In particular, salespeople are being forced to readjust their sales pitch. In the past, salespeople did most of the talking, educating buyers on the features and benefits of their product or service. However, now that buyers have gathered the majority of that information on their own, salespeople must learn how to listen.
Believe it or not, listening (not smooth talking!) is one of the most valuable skills a salesperson can possess. Not only can it show the prospect that you care, but it also helps you to dig deeper and uncover unforeseen opportunities in which you can possibly up sell or cross sell. Lastly, listening can enable you to sell better.
When you stop talking and start listening, magical things start to happen. You’re better able to get in touch with buyers’ motivations, opinions, and nuances, which allows you to better understand them. In turn, you can tailor your pitch to accommodate their specific needs and personality.
So how can you become a better listener? Below are various sales strategies and techniques you can use to improve your listening skills:
Everything your buyer says isn’t going to be important. For example, knowing what kind of sandwich they like for lunch isn’t going to exactly impact a sale (unless you’re selling sandwiches). The best salespeople know how to “strategically” listen for opportunities, problems, and opinions for which they can start to build a case for their product or service. While these points will likely come up in conversation, you can plant a couple of questions of which you want to gain answers.
Repeat Things Back
Once the conversation starts going, it’s common for it to begin to go off topic, especially if your prospect is on the verbose side. To ensure you understand what your prospect is telling you, select one or two important words or phrases, and repeat them back to the customer. Not only will this help confirm that you’re on the same page, but it will show the customer that you’re listening.
Practice Active Listening
Many people are too busy thinking of how they’re going to respond when someone is done talking that they end up not listening to anything the person is saying. To avoid this, start practicing active listening, which involves being fully in the moment, paying attention to your prospect’s tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.
While public speaking is considered a great sales skill, those who desire to be superior salespeople will learn to listen better. After all, everyone wants to be heard and understood—even high-level decisions makers.