Lots of sales professionals think that closing a sale is all about talking a prospect into buying. So they talk, talk, talk, and talk. They might ask a few questions, but often they don’t even wait to hear the answers. They just keep talking.
If you want to get better at selling, if you want to boost your bottom line, start by focusing on the ABCs of sales, which are all about listening to your lead or existing buyer. And always remember the Courtois Rule: “If people listened to themselves more often, they’d talk less.”
The ABCs of Listening Skills for Increased Sales
Advantage of Listening
Listening is the key to increased sales and quality referrals because it’s the first step toward understanding what your leads and clients want. If you find out what people want, you can help them get it. Unless they believe you understand their situation, they don’t really care what you have to offer.
Sure, you need a good solution for them, and you need to know how to bring the discussion to a successful close. But problem solving and closing usually won’t align just right if it doesn’t proceed from good listening skills.
When you listen to your prospects, you’re better positioned to offer a valid solution to their problems. And when you solve their problem, you may not even need to close the deal; they’ll often do it for you. On the other hand, when you do all the talking and attempt to convince them to buy, you often miss their perspective and offer the wrong solution. No sale.
This concept isn’t new. Sales books going back at least as far as the 1947 Frank Bettger classic How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling mention listening as a critical sales skill. A more recent book, Selling For Dummies (1995), lists “talking too much and not listening enough” as one of the top 10 mistakes made by salespeople.
Better Listening – 3 Tips
Neil Rackham, author of Spin Selling (1988), studied the selling behaviors of high performers in sales for 12 years. In his study, he and his research team evaluated the results of 35,000 sales calls by sales organizations in 23 countries. They found that, when compared to their peers, high performing sales people:
- Ask more questions
- Let the client to do most of the talking
- Wait longer before offering a solution
When you listen, you improve the odds of creating a friendly connection and building rapport with your client. When you develop rapport, clients get to know, like, and trust you. And people are far more inclined to buy from those they know, like, and trust.
Listening communicates to your client that you care about their interests. You appear more caring and less self-serving when you listen. You become the person they know, like, and trust.
As Paul W. Swets put it, “Essentially, you are conveying a language of acceptance, an unmistakable message that, regardless of your agreement with what is said, the person is important and his thoughts matter.”
5 Power Questions for Increased Sales
Make it your goal this week to talk less and listen more. Here are five essential questions that give you the power to close more sales if you just take the time to really listen for the answers.
- What are the client’s concerns?
- What would the client like to change about these concerns?
- What effect have these concerns had on their bottom line?
- What results are they looking for?
- What happens if things remain the same?
The answers to these questions provide all the ammunition you need to close the sale and become your client’s trusted advisor.