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Every sales manager and director tells you how important they are but do they actually tell you how to improve them!
As sales people elevate their sales skills in other areas, often the area of listening begins to suffer, and usually it is the more experienced pros who are the biggest culprits. There are reasons that listening skills deteriorate over time in the sales business and below are the main three. Avoid these mental mistakes and you will increase your listening skills and close more sales!
Listening Mistake #1 = Knowing the questions and answers before you hear them
One of the main problems happens as sales people get to the point where they know all of the answers. You have heard all of the objections a thousand times and you believe you already know what the prospect is going to say. When this happens, it is easy to hear but a fraction of what the prospect actually says, as you mentally anticipate the rest of the question or statement. The problem is that often you are incorrect. You THINK you heard what the prospect said, when you really heard what was in your mind.
Solution: To help avoid this, look to discover new answers and thoughts. Try to make them tell you something you have not heard before. This can only help you get better. When the prospect begins that question that you know you have heard before; stop and try to find what is different about this question. To your surprise, you will find some new thoughts and ideas.
Listening Mistake #2 = Formulating your response before the prospect has finished
Following mistake #1, many sales people begin to formulate their response to the prospect as the prospect is still speaking. The prospect begins to explain his or her concern. You believe you know exactly what they are going to say, and you begin rehearsing in your mind what you will say back. Anxious to obliterate the prospect’s objection immediately, often the sales person will cut off the prospect in mid-sentence.
Solution: Wait until the prospect has completed their thought, and then count to three before you open your mouth. This not only helps you listen and digest exactly what the prospect said, but it also helps you avoid belittling the prospect. Do not be too quick to “have an answer for everything.” Take time and let the prospect see that you are thinking and that his or her concern is important.
Listening Mistake #3 = Lack of eye contact
Most sales people diligently try to maintain eye contact when they are speaking. However, many seem to wander as the prospect talks. Listening entails more than just your ears. You have to listen with your eyes and emotions.
Solution: Maintain constant eye contact every time the prospect says anything. Take in and note the prospect’s body language, facial expression and movements. You need to SEE and FEEL what the prospect is saying in addition to hearing it.
So, lose the sales Crystal Ball that tells you exactly what the prospect will say before they say it. Don’t write your thank you speech before the game is over and listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by HigherSights)