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Listening: it sounds easy—we do it with out even attempting. However that is additionally what makes us take it without any consideration.

sales rep practicing active listening

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Too typically, we’re ready for our flip to speak or fascinated about what to say subsequent, as an alternative of really listening to the opposite aspect. To eradicate this behavior, I’ve taught the gross sales reps who’ve reported to me through the years a really particular talent: Energetic listening.

Desk of Contents:

What’s lively listening?

Energetic Listening Framework

Methods to Enhance Your Energetic Listening

Examples of Energetic Listening

Energetic listening is vital as a result of it has the purpose of attaining widespread floor between two or extra events. In gross sales, lively listening is crucial because it’s almost unimaginable to promote something for those who aren’t in settlement on the issue and resolution by the top of the dialog.

However lively listening is just not so simple as turning our ears on and repeating every little thing we hear again to the opposite particular person like a mockingbird. There is a framework for doing lively listening properly, and I will stroll you thru it within the subsequent part.

As we tried to persuade entrepreneurs that they wanted to undertake a brand new means of selling, I discovered it priceless to dig deeper right into a prospect’s wants with related follow-up questions, utilizing this three-step framework as a information.

1. Acknowledge the prospect’s wants.

Let’e be sincere for a second: Typically throughout a dialog, we pay attention for a particular phrase or subject that segues completely into our subsequent thought.

Whereas this is not impolite, offensive, or in any other case problematic, it does restrict our capability to have thought-provoking conversations.

When salespeople do that, particularly, prospects can sense it, and so they come to the conclusion that the rep merely needs to promote them one thing no matter whether or not they want it or not. It’s a downward spiral that often leads nowhere.

However the very best salespeople pay attention in a different way. They overlook in regards to the script (and perhaps even their very own agenda), and actually take heed to the phrases and emotions {that a} prospect is conveying of their language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and physique language.

By observing auditory, visible, and bodily clues in addition to the prospect’s phrases, a salesman can really start to know the plight of their prospect and put themselves within the purchaser’s footwear.

And this sort of listening—lively listening—could make an enormous distinction by encouraging prospects to open up extra, fostering belief and dedication.

So once you’re on the telephone or in a gathering with a prospect, ignore the distractions round you, throw out the script, cease worrying about what you’re going to say subsequent, and actually concentrate.

2. Affirm your understanding of the prospect’s wants.

This vital step is usually ignored. After you’ve paraphrased what your prospect has mentioned, merely ask “Did I talk that successfully?” or “Do you consider I perceive what you’ve gotten shared with me?” If the prospect says “no” you now have a chance to make clear your understanding by asking “Might you make clear for me what I might need missed or received incorrect?”

Discover how these questions create a gap for them to present you sincere suggestions. In distinction, I don’t suggest saying “Does that make sense?” or “Might you clarify that higher?” or some other query that places the blame on the prospect for not speaking successfully.

Michelle Adams, VP of Gordon Coaching says, “Once you nail it, it and the opposite particular person tells you that you just did by saying issues like: ‘Sure! That is it!’ or ‘Precisely, you’ve got nailed it.’ Or they may start nodding their head emphatically. Should you miss in your lively listening, they may inform you that too with: ‘Properly, no, it is not that. It is extra like this … ’ or they may have a look at you such as you’re nuts.”

The next video from Gordon Coaching reveals this step in motion.

When you get good at this a part of the method, you’ll have the ability to create a affirmation bias in your prospect’s thoughts. By repeating what this particular person has mentioned after which confirming that you just’re on the identical web page, the affirmation bias begins to kind, and belief begins to develop.

3. Make clear your understanding of their wants.

After you affirm that you just perceive the prospect, the next step is to ask observe up questions.

Resist the temptation to ask closed-ended questions which may make the prospect suppose that you just’re solely taken with making the sale. As an alternative, I like to recommend asking an open-ended query that encourages your prospect to share extra about their targets, challenges, and present plans.

As Saul McLeod factors out, open-ended questions enable the particular person to specific what they suppose in their very own phrases. Should you ask the fitting query, prospects may come to the fitting conclusions themselves, fixing their very own downside, or no less than beginning to consider {that a} resolution exists to assist clear up their issues. They may even conclude that your resolution is the fitting one. As well as, by getting your prospect to proceed pondering critically about their scenario (out loud), you stand a greater probability of uncovering the compelling causes your prospect will (or received’t) purchase from you.

This lively listening framework will provide you with the fundamental instruments to start out listening actively in your subsequent name, however the methods under will make it easier to cross the end line and shut the deal.

Methods to Enhance Your Energetic Listening

1. Set the tone

Earlier than the dialog will get began, clearly state what you and the opposite particular person will talk about. This could level-set expectations for your self and them in order that neither social gathering walks away feeling like their time was poorly spent. Keep in mind, lively listening is about mutual understanding, and what higher strategy to obtain this than by setting the tone at first?

2. Deal with physique language

Physique language says what the voice can’t. This goes each methods—how you utilize physique language can affect the dialog in addition to clue you into how they’re feeling. Make sure you take note of their eyes, facial expressions, and physique actions. But in addition preserve a pulse on the vitality you are displaying as properly. Sustaining an open, relaxed, and demeanor can go a good distance towards reaching widespread floor.

3. Discover connections between ideas

Reasonably than listening to reply, lively listening focuses on figuring out the wants of the opposite social gathering and developing with a path ahead, collectively. Discovering connections between ideas not solely reveals the opposite particular person that you’re listening to them, however it positions you as an knowledgeable in your area with a number of expertise efficiently dealing with issues like theirs.

4. Search for alternatives somewhat than discrepancies

Passing judgment is the quickest strategy to a useless finish in a dialog. Even for those who’re positive the prospect is making a poor alternative, attempt to redirect the dialog in a optimistic means towards alternatives. For instance, think about asking questions on what led them to their selections and what assets they used to validate them. Then current a chance to take a look at the services or products you promote by that very same lens.

Subsequent, let us take a look at some examples of lively listening and see the framework and methods in motion.

5 Examples of Energetic Listening

Listed below are a couple of situations by which lively listening is especially helpful, and learn how to apply it in these circumstances.

1. Addressing Resistance Early On A Gross sales Name

The easiest way to keep away from an objection is to anticipate and deal with it proactively. Efficient utility of lively listening can assist you do exactly that.

Nonetheless, it’s uncommon that you could anticipate and deal with each objection earlier than closing time. To not fear—lively listening shines right here too.

I counsel salespeople to make use of lively listening early within the gross sales course of to speak to prospects that they’re there to essentially pay attention and assist them—not simply promote them one thing.

Right here’s what a really early dialog may sound like.

Prospect: I don’t actually need assistance with X.

Salesperson: So, you’re feeling okay with X and aren’t searching for any assist with it. Are you able to say extra about that?

Prospect: Properly … I don’t have loads of time.

Salesperson: Looks like I caught you in the midst of one thing and your time is brief.

Prospect: Yeah, however I suppose I’ve a couple of minutes.

Salesperson: Okay. I typically hear one of some issues in conditions like yours: A, B, and typically C. If any of these are related, I’ve some concepts I might share with you that you just may discover priceless. Perhaps we might discuss for a couple of minutes now and schedule one other assembly when you’ve gotten extra time?

Too typically, salespeople rush to spit out one other query or pitch their worth. By repeating again what a prospect expressed (each phrases and emotions) and asking for clarification, you present that you just’re actively listening to them. This clears the best way to start asking questions or positioning worth.

2. Figuring out Options to Challenges

Maybe the very best time to make use of lively listening is when a prospect reveals a problem they’re having.

Right here’s an instance:

Prospect: I’m very pissed off that we didn’t obtain our purpose of A this yr. I considered all of it final month. This actually set us again. Worse, I’m simply caught on what to do subsequent yr.

Salesperson: Hmmm. I see. I can see how that may be irritating.

Prospect. Yeah.

Salesperson: So, it sounds prefer it’s actually vital to you that you just obtain purpose A this yr. It actually set you again once you didn’t obtain it this yr and also you’re at a loss on what to do in a different way subsequent yr.

Did I get that proper?

Prospect: Sure. Precisely proper.

Salesperson: Properly, what are you contemplating doing subsequent yr?

Prospect: Properly, we’ve thought of implementing plan B. However, I’m simply undecided it’ll work given we don’t know learn how to execute plan B but. We simply don’t have the fitting expertise inside our group.

Salesperson: Have you ever thought of getting some recommendation from somebody who has carried out plan B at different firms like yours?

Prospect: That looks as if it’d be a good suggestion.

3. Recapping an Exploratory Name

Whereas it’s by no means too early to restate the targets and challenges {that a} prospect has shared with you, empathize, affirm your understanding, and probe additional, I discover that the top of an exploratory dialog is a superb time to showcase that you just’ve heard them all through the decision.

Utilizing HubSpot’s qualification framework, I typically summarize what I’ve discovered from the dialog like so:

Salesperson: We’re developing on time. We will schedule extra time if it is smart. However, at this level, I recommend we evaluation what we’ve mentioned at the moment.

Prospect: That’d be nice.

Salesperson: As I perceive it, your present purpose is A. To be able to obtain your purpose, you carried out plan B — a plan that didn’t work this yr regardless of your greatest efforts. You anticipate that problem C could, as soon as once more, get in the best way of implementing plan B and attaining purpose A inside timeline D and price range E.

Prospect: That’s precisely proper. Spectacular recap, truly.

Salesperson: We additionally mentioned how plan F — a part of our resolution — may give you the option that can assist you overcome problem C.

Prospect: Properly … I’m undecided I utterly perceive plan F.

Salesperson: Okay. We went by a few of the points of plan F, however I agree that we haven’t absolutely lined it. In our subsequent name, would you want to enter extra depth on plan F, actually sketch it out, and make it possible for we’re in full settlement that it’ll make it easier to obtain purpose A?

Prospect: That sounds nice. Thanks in your assist thus far.

Salesperson: You’re welcome. When would you wish to schedule our subsequent name?

4. Closing Enterprise

Dave Kurlan invented my favourite closing approach: “The Inoffensive Shut.” Should you’ve completed every little thing accurately throughout your gross sales course of, closing needs to be one thing that simply occurs. Should you want a little bit nudge, the Inoffensive Shut is the only strategy to ask for the enterprise.

As Dave describes in his guide Baseline Promoting, there are three questions concerned within the Inoffensive Shut:

  • Do you consider I perceive your points, your issues, and your issues?
  • Do you consider I/now we have the experience to unravel your downside successfully?
  • Would you want my/our assist?

As you may see, listening in the course of the gross sales course of in addition to confirming understanding are mandatory steps if you wish to use this closing strategy.

However even once you’ve run an awesome gross sales course of, prospects don’t at all times reply with an emphatic “sure” after every of those questions. That’s when lively listening might be very helpful, as soon as once more.

Prospect: I’m not fairly optimistic that you’ve the fitting experience. I’m involved that you just’re not the very best supplier for an organization like ours.

Salesperson: Okay. Let me ensure I perceive. You’re involved we wouldn’t be the very best supplier. Is there a competitor of ours that you just suppose might need extra expertise in your business?

Prospect: Properly, not a lot within the business, however they’ve had extra expertise with cultures like ours. Not less than, that’s my opinion.

Salesperson: So it’s extra in regards to the tradition of your group versus your business?

Prospect: Sure. Precisely.

Salesperson: However it seems like the remainder of the group may disagree with you a bit?

Prospect: A bit could be an understatement. A few of my colleagues converse very extremely of the work you’ve already completed for us.

Salesperson: I see. So, it seems like my firm has some mega followers amongst your group. And we actually have completed rather a lot to assist them through the years. However you suppose that our competitor is healthier suited that can assist you, given the tradition of your group. Would it not assist if I might reveal to you what we’ve completed for different firms with comparable cultures to yours?

Prospect: Sure. I feel that may make the choice rather a lot simpler.

Salesperson: If I can do this successfully, would you rent us that can assist you as an alternative of the opposite agency?

Prospect: Sure.

Enhancing Your Energetic Listening Expertise

As you may see from these examples, Energetic Listening is a talent that can be utilized in nearly any stage of the gross sales course of, from the primary interplay all the best way to closing the deal.

Editor’s word: This publish was initially printed in April 2018 and has been up to date for comprehensiveness.

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