We’ve all heard the phrase, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.” The inference is that we should all listen more and talk less. This isn’t a new revelation or even close to thought leadership.
However, listening is a continuing challenge most sales organizations continue to deal with as they try to prevent ‘show-up and throw up’ sales meetings. There are several reasons that salespeople struggle with listening skills.
#1: Focus. Listening requires paying attention and paying attention requires focus. In an increasing distracting business environment, people are losing their ability to pay attention, focus.
Look around and you will observe many examples of extreme UNFOCUS. Salespeople are constantly checking anything that beeps or lights up and as a result, focus skills decline as does their ability to pay attention and listen. If a salesperson has not learned the habit of focus before conducting a sales meeting, pretty good chance that they will not bring the habit of paying attention and listening during a sales meeting.
Salespeople can’t recall a habit they’ve not developed.
#2: Mastery. We’ve all been guilty of listening to respond rather than listening to listen. This bad habit might come from the aforementioned, lack of focus. And it also comes from lack of sales mastery. If a salesperson has never mastered the fundamentals of consultative selling, they can’t be fully present during a sales conversation. They’re always wondering about their “next move.” Masterful salespeople know their next move, their next question or next response without thinking about it. This level of sales mastery allows them to be fully present and focused on what their prospect is saying rather than worrying about what they are going to say.
#3: Assertiveness. Research from the Corporate Executive Board shows that top salespeople possess the emotional intelligence skill of assertiveness. It’s the ability for a salesperson to state what he or she needs nicely. However, it’s important to note that assertiveness is a telling skill, not an asking skill. Without self-awareness, it’s easy for salespeople to become professional tellers during a sales meeting, telling prospect their best ideas for solving their challenges before listening to the prospect’s full story around goals and challenges.
It’s a classic case of where a strength becomes a weakness.
If you’d like to become a better listener check your assertiveness, focus and level of mastery.
Work on the right end of the listening challenge.