Selling is both a talking and listening art and science. You have to be able to listen to verbal communication as well as detect non-verbal clues. During your sales presentation, there must truly be an absolute balance in communication. The interesting thing is that the most common error in sales falls on the side of talking too much instead of listening too much.
6 Tips for Improving Your Sales Listening Skills
Rule #1: Always present benefits coupled with feedback questions.
Never present more than two benefits in a row without seeking some clarification with a feedback question. This will keep you on target and help you keep the balance between talking and listening.
Again, if you’re like many salespeople, you may have a tendency to string together 4, 5, or even 10 benefits in a row, never giving the prospect an opportunity to respond, react or say anything. Salespeople who are masters at sales listening skills don't do this.
Rule #2: Involve the customer.
Make sure the customer experiences, feels, hears and/or sees your product or service. You have to constantly allow the prospect to verbalize their feelings and reactions as they interact with your offering.
Make sure you not only listen to them, but observe their nonverbal cues as well.
Rule #3: Never do more than 50% of the talking.
You have to get the prospect to discuss things such as how they’re going to use the product or service. What problems do they see in using it? Have they used anything like it before? Questions like these will enhance your sales listening skills while helping you sell more.
Rule #4: Let the prospect finish his or her thoughts.
This is an important sales listening skills tip: count to three after the prospect says something and before you reply or ask another question. That’s important because it’s very easy for some of us to actually step on a prospect’s words, perhaps even to interrupt them.
Try and train yourself to count to at least three before you respond to anything a prospect says.
Rule #5: Always insert one question for every three declarative statements you make.
Make some declarative, credibility-building statement such as: “Our product has been approved by the regulatory committee, its circuitry is state of the art, and our research and development team indicates we’ll see a 22% return on investment for our clients involved with this product.”
Those are 3 declarative statements. Time for a question. Perhaps something such as, “How important is state-of-the-art technology to you and your operation?” or “How critical to you is a return of this size?” ￼What you’re doing is preventing a data blast that overwhelms the prospect.
You want to give them an opportunity to confirm you’re on target and that you’re keeping them involved.
Rule #6: Give them what they tell you is important.
If a particular benefit is of no value to the prospect, the feature is totally worthless. What you have to do is get to a point where you’re absolutely sure that what you’re presenting to the prospect is of value to them.
You have to make sure that you balance your communication so that you can also ensure that what you’re showing to them is in fact of value. Sales listening skills are essential to sales success. The truth is that much like any other skill, sales listening skills must be practiced over and over and over again.