Salespeople must possess several qualities to be successful in their jobs. Passion, grit and perseverance just begin to scratch the surface of what is needed to be successful in a sales position. While salespeople all perform the same job activities, each individual in this position is uniquely qualified. Some salespeople are more outgoing and naturally better at talking to people than others. Some have the critical thinking skills required to craft a unique sales pitch.
There is one trait that all salespeople should have, though: excellent listening skills.
Four tips for becoming a better listener in a sales position
Strong active listening is the one trait the best salespeople share — it’s the common denominator that makes them successful in their positions. If you can’t listen to your prospects, you won’t be able to make the sale. Most people think that selling involves a lot of talking. While this is true, the best salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.
All salespeople should be good listeners. Here are four tips for becoming a better listener in a sales position.
Ask good questions
The more you listen, the better your sales conversations will be. But you won’t have much to listen to if you don’t ask questions. Great questions are what help a pitch flow like a conversation. Questions get the prospect involved so you’re not the only one talking.
The best discovery questions achieve the following:
- Help the prospect see problems or challenges they didn’t realize they had.
- Uncover the prospect’s pain points and allow the salesperson to offer solutions.
- Set up a conversation about solutions so it doesn’t just sound like you’re pushing products or services.
- Help the salesperson tailor the conversation in a unique way so they can focus on the benefits that are most relevant to that particular business.
- Establish the salesperson’s credibility — some discovery questions can be specific to the prospect’s business or industry.
- Uncover the buyer’s communication style so that future conversations are presented in the best possible way.
- Give you a glimpse into common objections so you can practice rebuttals.
- Start the closing process early in the conversation.
- Uncover decision criteria and what you’ll need to move the prospect along in the buyer’s journey.
Sales is simply the process of actively listening to people about their pains and needs and solving them with your product or service. If you can ask good questions that uncover your prospect’s pain points, you won’t just have a better conversation — you’ll have a better chance of closing a deal.
Gather information and stay organized
You can be a great listener while on the phone, but how do you keep track of the information you learn about your prospects? The more you talk to prospects in your pipeline, the more you should know about them. If you call a prospect and ask the same questions repeatedly, you’ll lose credibility quickly. Act like you know your potential customers instead of treating every call like the first call.
The best salespeople keep information about their prospects organized. One of the best ways to do this is by leveraging a customer relationship management (CRM) technology. Using a CRM, you can keep track of all your company’s relationships in one place. The CRM can tell you what stage a prospect is in, and you can input data about each company so you don’t forget important conversations. Doing this will help you be a better listener in the future because you can ask questions that actually make sense.
Slow down and don’t interrupt
This one might seem obvious, but it’s crucial: Slow down, and don’t interrupt the prospect. You’re probably naturally outgoing and talkative (most salespeople are); however, this shouldn’t translate into being rude or talking a mile a minute. Talking quickly can make you seem nervous or inexperienced, or it can simply cause misunderstandings from the prospect not hearing you. Interrupting a prospect won’t do you any good, either.
If you slow down, your prospect will, too. They’ll be able to really digest what you’re saying and answer your questions more thoughtfully. Be sure to slow down when delivering a pitch, and when it’s the prospect’s turn to talk, don’t interrupt them. This will allow you to understand their emotions and listen to their actual responses to important questions.
Practice handling objections
If you don’t know how to handle an objection properly, you may find yourself talking too much as a result of being nervous. To combat this, practice your rebuttals to common objections so you know exactly what to say. Here are some common objections you should know how to handle:
- “We aren’t looking for a provider right now.” A good rebuttal that’s straightforward and to the point would be, “Can I follow up in a couple of months to see if anything has changed?”
- “We can’t afford your solution.” A good rebuttal to this objection could be, “We can customize our service offering based on your specific needs, so you won’t be paying for anything you don’t need.”
- “I don’t understand what you do, and I’m not interested.” Answer with, “That’s fine, but can I email you a PDF of our company brochure? After you read more about our company and what we offer, feel free to follow up with any questions.”
If you know how to answer common objections, you’ll never feel stuck, and you won’t end up talking a prospect’s ear off.
If you’re able to ask good questions and genuinely listen to what prospects have to say, you’ll have everything you need to make a sale. Every salesperson should be a good listener, but when you actively try to become an even better listener, you’ll achieve more in a sales role than you ever thought possible.