Updated: Jun 28
Sales professionals need a combination of soft skills to be successful. While relationship building is often viewed as the primary sales skill, listening is the most important skill in closing sales and building lasting relationships with customers.
Top performing sales professionals in 2021 will have listening intelligence, awareness and the ability to change the way they listen depending on the situation and the people involved. We have these three tips for closing more sales:
Plan before you focus on listening, then listen more than you talk.
Determine your buyer's listening preferences by paying attention to the subtle nuances of the questions they ask and the statements they make.
Think about how you speak and share information to match the listening preferences of your customers or prospects.
Rigorous research has identified four ways people listen. They are described as listening habits: Connect, Reflect, Analyze, and Concept. We can begin to identify patterns and understand what matters most to buyers by slowing down and listening deeply.
Here are four habits:
1/ Connected Listeners listen through an outside lens about what's important to others. They value feelings more than facts. It is your buyers who really care about relationships and relationships. Confidence in you is a top priority in their decision making process. You'll lose them if they can't figure out how the information applies to people in the equation.
To close a sale with a connected listener, you need to be sensitive and aware of their purpose, concerns and the impact they want to have. Ask questions to achieve what is most important to their goals and results for their team and the clients they serve.
2/ Reflective Listeners listen to how information applies to them, what they already know, and what they personally care about. They usually don't ask a lot of questions, but make statements based on their previous knowledge and experience.
Responding listeners may need time to process what you have shared before validating. To close the sale with Reflective listeners, give them time and space to think. There may be moments of silence as they search their in-depth knowledge database. Allow these breaks despite the discomfort you feel. You can't close a sale with a Reflective listener on your first conversation, so don't be dismayed if it looks like you haven't logged in yet. If it works for them, it's your buyers who will surprise you with a "Yes" as you follow.
3/ Analytical Listeners are interested in evidence and accuracy, in data and in detail. While you may want to get to know them personally, they will tend to take more interest in the task at hand and find answers to problems in real time through relationship building.
To close a sale with Analytics Listeners, be prepared to share research and metrics. Ask questions, learn the truth and provide answers with data sourced. They make unbiased decisions based on information and won't be swayed by charisma, so make sure your information is reliable and can be verified.
4/ Concept Listeners focus on the big picture and the potential. They tend to be abstract thinkers, connecting different ideas and concepts, and can be very excited about future possibilities. They like to think and often “think”.
For Concept Listeners, ask questions to get potential implications for the future. Involve them in the sales process by idealizing them and being open to learning and thinking about new ways to solve common problems because they will want to approach problems with a new mindset. You might be surprised that they come up with solutions that haven't been offered yet.
The secret sales weapon is Listening Intelligence. It starts with understanding that people have unique listening habits. Being able to quickly identify a buyer's listening preferences and then change the way they speak is essential for long-term success. So the next time you're in a really lucrative conversation, give it a try. Listen to the clues and respond with agility.
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