Active listening is one of the most important soft skills that may help you succeed in sales. In this post, you’ll learn what is active listening and why you should invest some time in acquiring this skill if you haven’t done this yet.
Active listening is a pattern of listening that keeps you engaged with your conversation partner in a positive way. It is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, withholding judgment and advice.
When you apply active listening, you make the other person feel heard and valued. In this way, active listening is the foundation for any successful conversation including sales.
Now, how active listening skills will help you to close more sales?
Building Rapport And Trust
Active listening is very helpful in building rapport between the listener and the speaker, meaning between you and the prospect. It shows the speaker that the other person is truly paying attention which is especially important during the sales process.
Often salespeople ignore what prospects are sharing and even interrupt them because they’re focused on closing the sale, not on the needs of the prospect.
By using active listening skills you can show the prospect that you’re paying attention and value their opinion. It helps to build trust and rapport and ensures that the conversation will flow as good as possible.
Active Listening Avoids Miscommunication
Active Listening helps to avoid miscommunication between you and the prospect as it includes summarizing the conversation. After the speaker is done talking the listener sums up all the key points. The speaker then has a chance to correct something that was misinterpreted. In this way, you can make sure that you’re on the same page with the prospects regarding the offer, the conditions, etc.
When To Apply
The most obvious time to use active listening is during the qualification of the prospect and handling objections. At those stages, you should pay close attention to what the prospect is saying to be able to deal with it in the right way and professionally.
It doesn’t mean that on the other stages of the sales process you can just lean back and close your ears. Often prospects may share important or even critical information when you think that everything has been clarified already.
Active Listening Techniques
Only few people are naturally good listeners. Therefore, learning to listen actively may take some time but it’s definitely worth it.
Below you’ll find some active listening techniques you may try applying already in your next conversation:
- nodding, eye contact, or otherwise affirming that you’re listening;
- asking open-ended questions instead of yes-no questions;
- rephrasing and repeating the speaker’s ideas to make sure you understood them correctly;
- focusing on what the speaker is saying and not on your inner voice;
- paying attention to body language to determine the speaker’s emotional state.
What Active Listening Accomplishes
When you apply active listening skills in your sales pitches or presentations you accomplish two things.
First, you’ll fully understand what the prospect told you. Then you can use this information to make the most fitting offer and close the sale. Second, you’ll show respect for the prospect, which contributes a lot to building a trustworthy relationship.
One of the most common obstacles to active listening occurs when you hear something that catches your attention and immediately start preparing a reply. Of course, while you’re thinking about what you’ve just heard you’re not paying close attention to what the prospect is saying. What you can do is to mentally echo what the speaker is saying as they say it.
The stereotypical salesperson talks all the time, but this causes them to miss out on significant opportunities. You should spend twice as much time listening as talking. Moreover, try to apply active listening skills and you’ll see how it improves your relationship with prospects and let you close more deals.