HARDISON’S TIPS – AUGUST 2, 2021 – Active Listening in Sales (PT.1)
Active listening is one of the most important skills in the salesperson’s toolbelt. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked and undervalued in the sales process. The result? Sales that should be easy instead become difficult. Sales efforts that can only lead to frustration – for the salesperson and the prospect – continue toward inevitable dead ends. And even when sales are made, the “solutions” sold might be off target, causing customer dissatisfaction and a damaged reputation for the selling organization.
By using active listening techniques, however, sales that might have been difficult become easier, dead-end prospects get weeded out early, and closed deals truly solve customer problems and ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So, let’s dig deeper into why active listening matters and how to use listening techniques to overcome objections, provide true solutions, and sell more!
The Problems of Selling Without Listening
Too often, salespeople launch into a standard sales pitch first and listen later – when it’s already too late. This is a classic case of selling instead of solving, of pressuring and pigeonholing a prospect into a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t fit at all and doesn’t solve their real need.
When a salesperson doesn’t listen first (and listen actively), it sends these unfortunate messages to the potential customer:
- Solving their true needs or curing their real “pain” don’t really matter
- Their needs are not unique and therefore their account won’t be managed based on its individual merits
- The salesperson wants to make the sale as quickly as possible and move on to the next “conquest”
- The salesperson’s needs exceed the prospective customer’s needs
This customer perception is very likely the reality. And it creates tension between salesperson and prospect, leading to wasted time and effort for both parties. If the inevitable protracted selling process does somehow result in a sale, chances are good that the solution sold doesn’t truly address what the customer needs. And that is the biggest problem of all because it frustrates the customer and damages the relationship with the selling organization.
The Benefits of Active Listening
On the other hand, when a salesperson utilizes active listening techniques, both parties benefit in several ways:
- The prospect feels heard, respected and valued
- The prospect may offer fewer and softer objections if the emphasis is on their need to solve a problem rather than the salesperson’s need to make a sale
- The prospect has greater confidence that the solution bought will truly address their needs