Basics – Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

There are 10 ways to improve your listening skills.

  1. Take time to listen.
  2. Pay attention.
  3. Fight off distractions.
  4. Watch those emotions.
  5. Persuade while listening.
  6. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.
  7. Listen for the keys to the sale.
  8. Focus on ideas, not facts alone.
  9. Listen between the words.
  10. Give feedback.

1. Take time to listen.

Don’t feel that you aren’t selling when you aren’t talking.  You must take time to listen.

As you talk, if the buyer cuts in, stop talking and listen.  If you don’t, the prospect probably won’t hear another word you say anyway, because nothing is as interesting as what he’s wanting to say.

When the prospect asks a question, don’t be too quick with the answer.  Pause a few seconds to at least show that you are considering the question and to show that you want to give a good answer.  If you wait, you should give a better answer, and you will also be sure that the prospect has finished talking.

  1. Pay Attention.

To be a good listener, a salesperson must push his worries and plans into the background to make room for what the prospect is saying.

The customer wants attention.  He wants to be listened to.  So, give him your full attention.  Acknowledge what he says by giving some reply of word, gesture, or facial expression.

  1. Fight off distractions.

A salesperson must fight off all distractions.  The degree to which distractions keep us from listening depends upon our interest in the subject.  Since a salesperson’s paycheck depends on his success, he should be able to fight off all distractions.

  1. Watch those emotions.

A salesperson must keep an open mind.  Don’t get a closed mind because of emotional words or actions used by the prospect.  A prospect may make a really negative comment to you, but if you ask questions that lead him and allow him to get the venom out of his system, you may be able to get him thinking in a positive direction again.

Excitement can also be a problem.  The expectation of making a sale can make a salesperson over anxious, nervous, and impatient.  This can make the buyer cautious.  So, a salesperson must force the appearance of relaxation while retaining enthusiasm.

  1. Persuade while listening.

A salesperson can persuade in two important ways, by giving his obvious attention to what the prospect says, and by asking questions which probe deeper into the problem or desire.

  1. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.

By asking questions and listening, a salesperson develops empathy with the prospect.  When you do so, you put yourself into the prospect’s shoes, and this puts you into a better position to solve his problem and satisfy his needs.

  1. Listen for the keys to the sale.

A key to remaining interested in what the prospect is saying is to ask yourself what the prospect is saying that you can use to satisfy the prospect’s needs and wants and make the sale.

  1. Focus on ideas, not facts alone.

Many salespeople concentrate too much on retaining facts mentioned by their prospects.  A salesperson must not overlook the underlying purpose or desire the prospect has.

You may have to probe with other questions to get the main idea, but this is easy to do when you realize that you must not listen for facts alone.

  1. Listen between the words.

People don’t always say what they really mean about buying or not buying a product.  A salesperson cannot take comments at face value.  He must listen for clues as to why the prospect is really hesitating, what new appeal he needs to project.

  1. Give Feedback

Different people can hear the same thing and interpret it differently.  It is often good to repeat back to the prospect the gist of what he said to see if you really understand.  This technique also encourages the prospect to reassess what he said and listen to the salesperson.  It also lets the prospect know that the salesperson is really interested.

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