Listening is a key skill in the art of being successful in a sales position. With technology and systems supporting businesses in more ways than ever before, many are (or already have) moved to a sales methodology which encompasses a consultative selling technique. A consultative selling technique is an approach that focuses on creating value and trust with a prospective customer and exploring and establishing their needs, to offer a solution. To be successful at the ‘consultative sell’, it is important to really listen to what the customer needs.
Here are some simple listening tips:
Silence is Golden
Easier said than done, you really need to employ active listening to hear and understand what the other person is saying. Avoid interrupting them and ensure you ask open ended questions (ones which don’t require a yes or no answer).
Write it down: The act of writing something down is proven to influence your cognitive processes by slowing you down to help you to process and retain information. It also shows your prospect that you are interested enough in their thoughts to make notes.
Eye contact and body language
Most of our communication is nonverbal. In a face to face or virtual meeting, keep and maintain a decent level of eye contact with your contact. A simple head nod can be a means by which you can demonstrate you are paying attention and are focused on what they are saying.
If you are conducting a sales pitch over the phone, acknowledge you are listening with a short “OK” or “yes” until you can recap the conversation or ask a question.
Recap the conversation
Return to your notes to paraphrase your conversation, highlighting the key points that your contact has made. This is the time to communicate and confirm that you understand what your prospective customer has said.
It is important that you ask your prospect the following questions “Have I understood that correctly?” and “Is there anything else?”
By confirming that you have successfully listened and understood what your prospective customer has said, will be the commencement of trust forming.
Ask follow up questions
Now is the time for you to find out more information on your prospective customer’s ‘pain points’. Remember to ask open ended questions, for example, ask questions that start with “Tell me about….” This gives a customer an opportunity to give you a longer answer which will tell you about their needs, and even the ‘need behind the need’.
Once you have clarity through listening, keeping firm eye contact, asking open ended questions, and understanding their pain points, you’re equipped with the right information to provide them with a solution. You have not only made a sale, but you have also solved your prospective customer’s problem and developed them into another happy customer!
Keep on listening everyone and to quote the Ramones “You gotta learn to listen, listen to learn!”