It’s always interesting to ask participants in sales training how many people have taken a course in listening? The response is always no followed by a nervous laugh.
Many salespeople have taken a communication class of some sort; speech, writing or debate. Most salespeople have not received any kind of education on the number one influence skill: listening. So what makes listening so hard? Why do most salespeople talk more than they listen? Isn’t listening just a matter of paying attention and keeping quiet? As easy as it sounds, listening is truly a skill. Here are just a few reasons we see salespeople not listening.
- The current addiction to technology is breeding a group of salespeople that are constantly multi-tasking. Listening to listen means you only do one thing---listen. The habit of checking into email, voicemail means that most salespeople are checked out after five minutes of conversation that doesn’t include a video or text message. They have not developed the skill of being completely present and attentive.
- Salespeople must challenge assumptions and be curious. This statement almost elicits a yawn, but it is true. When a prospect shares a problem with a salesperson, he/she has to quit thinking they know why it’s a problem and how it’s impacting the organization. The salesperson focused on listening versus talking asks several questions and LISTENS to the answers. The focus is on gathering information versus spraying information.
- Practice, practice, practice. Sounds crazy that a salesperson would have to practice listening. But like any skill set, it is learned and developed. The next time you are out with a group of friends, just sit and listen rather than contribute to the conversation. You will be amazed how much talking other people can and will do if you just play the “quiet game.”
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply." - Stephen Covey
If you want to improve your selling skills, start by improving your listening skills. Good Selling!
Colleen Stanley Chief Selling Officer