Sales Performance: The Impact of Active Listening

Sarah Downs

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Sarah Downs

26/01/21

Sales Performance: The Impact of Active Listening

If you can balance talking and listening, you have a significant advantage. In driving sales performance, it can be the difference between being okay at what you do and being a superstar.

My grandmother always said, “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason”. She had good reason to remind me of this often.

As a child, I got into trouble for talking too much. It featured in every school report and I am sure that my parents must have sighed with relief once I finally fell asleep at night.

In this blog, I will discuss some of the reasons why it’s important to really listen and how it can affect your business down the line.

“I’ve concluded that the interpretation of a message is 7 per cent verbal, 38 per cent vocal and 55 per cent visual. Therefore, 93 per cent of communication is “nonverbal” in nature.”

– Dr Mehrabian

 

Sales Performance: A Career in Nursing Taught Me to Listen

Some of the worst salespeople talk far too much and don’t LISTEN enough. It’s possible to close some deals without being a good listener but you won’t be so lucky every time.

Learning to listen will help you throughout your life, not only in sales. Good listening skills contribute to building personal and professional relationships. Listening skills can be learned so don’t worry if you don’t listen as well as you’d like.

I learned how to listen when I was in my late teens. When I started my career in nursing, I quickly figured out the value of listening. I had patients telling me that they weren’t in pain, but the readings on the observation machines and their body language told a different story.

You May Need to Ditch Your Sales Pitches to Increase Sales Performance

You might have an hour with a prospect to talk about your product or service. To get the most out of that time, spend a greater proportion of the time asking questions so that you truly understand the prospect’s perspective. Avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ and focus the time on listening to the prospect.

Sales pitches tend to have recycled content with misaligned messaging. They’re often delivered on autopilot, without enough attention to the audience’s response or asking pertinent questions. It’s no wonder that prospects tend to switch off or even get offended in these types of scenarios. The truth is a sales conversation is almost never one-size-fits-all.

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Using the same pitch again and again just won’t do. The goal isn’t the race through the slide deck but rather to get a good understanding of the prospect’s challenge and how you can help. Active listening also provides an opportunity to co-develop ideas.

You Gain More Than Sales from Listening

Sales performance aside, active listening drives a strong team culture. Salespeople become better listeners and it spreads to other parts of the organisation, strengthening communication and collaboration.

By creating a culture where every salesperson has a genuine interest in what’s being said, the understanding of the marketplace and the data gathered from that could be the difference between success and failure. The best strategies and value proposition come from deep listening and market testing.

Great sales is about good questioning and listening not talking and selling. Whether you’re meeting in-person or online, really listening is an invaluable skill that could lead to superstar sales performance.

If you’d like to know more about how to identify and rectify gaps in your salespeople’s active listening skills, please get in touch. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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