Listening is one of the most important sales and selling techniques you can have. Many of you think you’re listening, but you’re not. I can’t tell you how many clients have told me they are really good listeners, but it was obvious to me and everyone else that they aren’t. How often do you get all wound up telling someone about something only to realize at some point that you are the only one enjoying the conversation? When a prospect shares a story do you have to tell a better one? Are prospects willing to meet with you again, or is it like pulling teeth? Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t the great listener you think you are. If that’s the case you may have an opportunity to make a huge improvement in your sales.

When you meet with a prospect for an actual sales appointment how much of the time are you doing the talking? Absolutely no guessing allowed. When you meet with your prospect write the time your appointment actually starts on any piece of paper or notebook you normally use in an upper corner. Buy a timing device that will allow you to hit a start/stop button and track cumulative time. This is well worth the $5-$10 dollar investment. Make sure you are proficient at using it before the appointment. Now every time you open your mouth to speak hit the start time button, and don’t hit the stop button until you close your mouth. Keep the timer in your pocket or just hold it in your hand under the table. When the meeting ends note the time and length of the meeting. Check your timer to see how many minutes you actually spent talking. Was it 20% of the time or more? If it was you’re talking too much and aren’t listening enough.

Asking questions doesn’t mean you’re listening. When you ask a question what are you doing while the prospect answers? Are you thinking about what you’re going to say next? Are you thinking about your next appointment? Are you just nodding your head and not even attempting to remember what they’re saying? When the prospect is speaking you want to listen for content and emotion. You want to listen so intently that 3 days from now you can recall and repeat what they’ve told you. Taking notes is one way to help yourself stay focused. Don’t try to record everything they tell you just the main points.

Why do you ask questions? Do you ask questions based on where you are in the sales presentation, or what the prospect just said? If you’re a good listener your prospect is telling you a story about themselves, their needs, and how they make buying decisions. Your sales success will directly correlate with how well you listen because the better you listen the better you understand.

Do you understand the prospect? The more you listen for understanding the more you will understand and the easier it will be for you to give the prospect what they want. Funny thing is, when you give people what they want how they want it they have an extremely high propensity to buy. The really odd thing is that when you’re a really good listener people will even buy things they don’t want because they enjoy being around you so much. Now I don’t recommend you do that, but when it does happen the prospect will comment they don’t know why they bought whatever but the sales person was one of the nicest people they’ve ever met.

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