Why listening skills are important? Have you ever thought about this?
Most of us love being around people who truly listen to us. This does not change when it comes to sales. I personally would like to deal with a salesperson who is willing to listen and understand; A salesperson who wants to help me and not sell his product and go away.
None of us like people who are always selling. We are always on the lookout for someone who can help us make a better purchasing decision. Salespersons are a help to buyers for this very reason most of the time.
Since childhood, we are trained to become good public speakers and presenters. But no one gives much attention to listening skills development.
None of us might have attended a listening skills competition in our school or college. Our teachers and parents never pushed us hard to be good listeners as much as they pushed us to be good speakers.
Now, when we watch news channels or any piece of content on social media, there is very little listening and too much talking. It’s obvious in such a scenario that most of us end up having poor listening skills as the entire focus in most of the conversations is about speaking and not listening.
Now, coming to today’s topic.
What is active listening? Why listening skills are important for salespeople?
Listening is an act of giving someone your undivided attention. It is to understand and be curious and not to judge.
We have two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we can speak.
So, Why listening skill is the most important skill for sales professionals? Why should organisations hire salespeople with good listening skills?
In our parlance, the synonym of selling is helping. A salesperson’s primary role is to help his customer. It is to guide them to make a better purchasing decision.
If your primary role is helping someone, there is no way you can help them if you can’t listen to them. Listening gives you clarity of what problems the opposite person is facing. It helps you understand the person who is speaking and their reaction to the problem.
Listening helps you to understand how you can help your clients solve their problems. It is the biggest respect we can give to our customers. Research shows in an ideal sales call, the customer talks 70% of the time and the salesperson talks 30 % of the time.
So how can we improve our listening skills? Here are three tips that can help you improve your listening skills.
Step 1: Active listeners don’t judge their customers
We all have perceptions of the world based on the life we have lived and the experiences we had. All our decisions and thoughts and inferences depend on what life has taught us.
These experiences are always relative. They are not necessarily true for all your customer interactions. For example, if a customer is not picking your call, there is a general tendency to judge him as a rude person. But there could be a possibility that he has important work which he needs to take care of. But, we have been very used to being judgemental in our daily life. We can’t help judging our customers on their behaviour.
The more we judge our customers, the harder we fail to serve them well. When we judge them we can’t think of adding value. We always will see their behaviour from our past experiences and at times we don’t trust the real truth.
There is a famous quote ” People who judge don’t understand and people who understand never judge.”
We can do a big favour to ourselves by not judging our prospects or customers. Being non-judgemental puts us in a state of mind of serving and that’s how we can help our customers make a good buying decision.
Step 2: To Improve Your Listening Skills, Avoid Distraction
We all live in an always-on economy. We believe we are expected to be online all the time.
Mobile phones are considered the best innovation of all time in the history of mankind. But, this innovation also has its own drawbacks. For sales professionals, mobile phones and sales apps on mobile phones are part of our daily tool kit. Like how a doctor has a stethoscope, thermometer and a first-aid kit in his bag, the salesperson has a mobile phone with him loaded with all the sales tools.
We are expected to adopt these sales tools and to be in complete control of these tools to be productive. But, most of the time the reverse happens. Tools and apps control us and make us highly unproductive.
Every time we are talking to a colleague or client, an app notification or a call distracts us from the present moment. This worsens our listening skills. We keep switching our attention between two things simultaneously. If we don’t control technology, it by default controls us and makes us unproductive.
Imagine you visit a doctor for surgery and while treating you he constantly checks his mobile phone notifications. Will he be able to do justice to your treatment? As a salesperson, you are the doctor for your customer and your customer is your patient.
If you don’t control all your distractions while interacting with your customers on the phone or face to face, it becomes very difficult to be a good doctor for your customer.
You are always going to have challenges in understanding your customer’s problem and their reaction to the problem. You are always going to have distractions near you, around you. So how do you avoid them?
Here are three hacks that I can suggest to you to avoid distractions:
Hack no 1: Switch off notifications.
Switch off notifications of apps that distract you the most, like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or any other apps.
I don’t have anything against these apps, but you don’t have to look at them the moment you get the notifications; it can wait.
I have been following this for many years and it has never happened that my clients or team members thought that I am an unresponsive person. In fact, this has made me a far better listener, as now I am completely attentive to my customers’ problems.
Hack No 2: Anticipate what distracts you and plan to take care of it.
We all know what distracts us during our daily life, so if we just plan consciously and ensure we take care of it, we can easily find a way to work it out. It might be your surroundings, it might be your peers or anything else.
Instead of taking customer phone calls in an open area in the office, we can plan to take calls in a quiet place.
We can plan our meetings in advance and ensure that there are the least distractions in our environment.
Hack no 3: To enhance active listening, Don’t interrupt while your customer is talking.
Many of us are confused between hearing and listening.
The fundamental difference between both of them is that when we are hearing, we prioritize ourselves and our replies over the other person who is talking. On the other hand, when we are listening, we prioritise the other person over us.
When we are hearing, we hear to find a chance to talk. When we are listening, we are willing to be patient and let the other person complete what they have to say. We try to understand what he is talking about and then respond accordingly.
When we are hearing, we are so focused on replying to the opposite person that we can’t help ourselves from interrupting. When we interrupt someone, we are interrupting to reply and not to listen.
Step 3: Active listeners make notes & summarize
Developing good listening skills is an active sport where you have to continuously listen to and register what they are talking about at the same time.
A good hack to do that is to take notes. It helps you to be conscious about what you are listening to. It helps you to note down important points and also helps to summarise the discussion at the end of the conversation.
Summarizing at the end of a discussion is a great way of keeping a check on your listening skills. It is a confirmation that you were actively listening and it is a good exercise to improve your overall listening skills.
Listening is a virtue. It is the biggest respect we can give to our customers. It’s a skill that not only will make you a seasoned salesperson but also a kind person.
Happy LISTENING 🎧
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