One of the many ways to increase your sales performance is listening. The better your listening skills, the more closing opportunities you'll hear. Use the following four tips to becoming a better listener in any sales situation.
Repeat and clarify information. A great deal of information is lost through one-way communication. This is common in sales and results in frequent misunderstandings. Work with your client in trying to put the most information to use in the best possible way.
Exchange information. Good salespeople know that you can't sell unless you find a need, and to find a need you must know how to ask questions. According to the authors of Selling to Anyone Over the Phone, asking "tell-me" questions typically result in responses that provide you with the insight you need to solve problems and suggest solutions (example: "Tell me more about your current purchasing process"). When you use questions effectively customers "enjoy sharing experiences, telling stories, and relating needs."
Listen at the optimal tension level. Stress is usually measured on a bell-shaped curve of 0 to 100, with 0 as a very relaxed state and 100 as an anxiety state at which some people may experience difficulty in thinking logically. The optimal listening tension is in the 30 to 40 range, where enthusiasm thrives. Studies show that the more attentive and alert you are, the more information you will retain. To keep alert, grip the edge of your chair or stand up if possible.
Stop interrupting. We all dislike being interrupted. We all want to be heard and have a desire to say what is on our minds. A lot of clients go through the decision-making process by thinking aloud and may not reach a decision until they finish talking. How many times have you cut in on clients, interrupting them before they have completed their thoughts? Find out what your client is trying to say first. When the time comes for you to respond, let the client catch his or her breath before you speak. This gives your client the idea that you are not only listening but also thinking about your response.
Listen to emotions. Theoretically, 20 percent of communication is strictly facts and 80 percent is emotion – the emotion that we all have and put into every thought. If you are only listening to the facts, you are only receiving 20 percent of the conversation.
Being a good listener takes work and practice. The end result? You can establish a closer relationship through deeper trust and understanding. This makes the listening effort well worth your while.