Sales and the Art of Listening

Many people have the misconception that in order to be successful in the field of selling, you have to have the gift of gab. We’ve all heard it… “I can sell ice to an Eskimo“. The reality is, it is quite the opposite. The best salespeople are simply the best listeners.

A recent report shows that when salespeople were asked to list factors which they felt had an extreme or substantial impact on converting a prospect to a customer, listening was the number one answer.

Over the years, I have attended many sales summits. It is absolutely amazing when you get in a big room with a bunch of high energy salespeople how many of them talk a lot, especially about themselves and their accomplishments. Salespeople are pre-conditioned to speak, and most of them equate selling with speaking or pitching rather than listening. The art of listening is a skill that requires mindful practice.

The art of listening is not only important in selling, it also helps with having successful relationships.

Several years ago, I recall speaking to my youngest daughter and her friend and I posed this question to them, “If you’re ever at a party or a big event and you want to be the most popular or liked person, what do you think it will take to do that?” They both paused and waited for me to give them the answer. The answer surprised them, but it definitely made sense. I told them simply to go around the room, introduce themselves, and meet as many people as possible. Ask questions that will get them to talk about themselves. Listen with great interest, smile a lot and give compliments, and have some good follow-up questions which show that you’re interested in what they are saying. Do very little talking about yourself. Throughout the years, both of them have done this and found it to be 100% correct.

Whether you’re in the field of selling or you simply want to build better relationships, developing the skill of listening is very important. Here are a few listening tips that will help you not only get to a higher level in sales, but will also help you in daily relationships.

1) Do not speak

Now, this is easier said than done. The reality is you cannot listen if you’re speaking or if you’re on the edge of interrupting the other person. Learn to keep your mouth shut and pay attention to what your prospect is saying. The magic word when it comes to selling is HELP. You cannot help your prospect if you don’t listen to what their needs are.

2) Maintain strong eye contact

When a prospect is speaking to you, look them right in their eyes and nod. Your eye contact lets them know you are sincerely interested as they are speaking to you.

3) Ask good follow-up questions

When a prospect answers your questions, there’s a natural tendency just to move on to the next question. Learn to ask good follow-up questions like, “Can you elaborate more on that for me?” or, “Can you give me an example?” This is a great way to demonstrate your interest in your prospect’s perspective.

So if you really want to become a top performer in the field of selling, learning the art of listening is the key. Show genuine interest in your prospect and remember the top salespeople are the best listeners.

Have a super fantastic week!


Regional Sales Manager RMS

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash