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Listen Your Way to the Win

March 25, 2015 - 2 Comments

Many people believe that big talkers make the best sales people. But actually, the best listeners prove to be the most successful not only in sales, but in any business profession. More than 35 business studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business. So if listening is so important why don’t more people practice good listening skills? Well, hearing is easy but listening is hard.

Considers these statistics:

  • Immediately after we listen to someone, we only recall about 50 percent of what they said.
  • Long-term, we only remember 20 percent of what we hear.
  • Most of us are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful about 75 percent of the time we should be listening.

How do you set yourself apart from the general population when it comes to listening? Follow these four steps to more success.

  1. Ask the Right questions.
  • Probing Questions help you discover more about your customer and their needs. They illicit explanations and prompt further discussions. Never ask a question that can result in a “NO”. Probing questions can take a good deal of time. Be patient and listen to your customer’s response.
  • Leading Questions help direct your customer’s response to your products or services. Make sure you are not telling your customer what to believe. Ask questions that lead the customer to the conclusion so it is true to them.
  • Involvement Questions create a positive spin on the benefits and advantages of your products or services that the buyer needs to know about if they choose to work with you. It also gains buy-in and participation in the sale. Example “If I get you the competitive pricing you need, how many of your offices would need the equipment?”
  • Closing Questions ask for a decision from the customer. When most non-customers are asked why they didn’t purchase, most who liked the product said they didn’t buy because they weren’t asked. Don’t dance around the close. Ask for the business and then make sure you stop asking closing questions once you receive a “Yes”.
  1. Listen to understand, not to respond. Good listeners create an environment where the participants feel they are completely understood. In order to do this, the listener must be fully attentive and focused on what is being said, and not on what they are going to say next. In other words, listen to receive the meaning. Once you understand, only then should you respond.
  2. Be quiet and let them finish their thoughts. Don’t interrupt the speaker. From the previous tip, this idea seems obvious. It’s easy for misunderstandings to occur that stem from interruptions. It’s hard to remain silent. It’s even harder to remain silent until someone has completely expressed their idea.
  3. Ask questions to confirm your understanding. Just because you heard the words, don’t assume that you understand. If you have any uncertainty, ask a question to clarify it before you respond. You might say something like: “Just to be sure I understand you, you stated that…” or “If I understand correctly, your main concern is…” Clarifying ensures that you have a correct understanding, even if you don’t agree with the speaker’s perspective

Once you master a higher level of listening, you’ll start to experience richer relationships in all areas of your life, including with your customers. These heightened listening skills and deeper customer relationships will ultimately result in more success in sales. Practice these skills and listen your way to the win.

Good listeners who win consistently should be rewarded. Cisco’s Winner’s Circle is designed to celebrate the success of partner sales reps. The top Partner Plus partners who achieve their annual targets can nominate a top sales achiever to attend the Winner’s Circle event.   Winner’s Circle attendees are treated to first class accommodations in an exotic location where they have the opportunity to network with Cisco executives. To learn more about Cisco’s Winner Circle, click here.

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  1. Great blog Karin

    I could not agree more.

    What I would add, even before you get into the sales part of it with all the questions, is to listen from the first connection, be that a telephone call or a meeting. The more you create a space for listening, the more trust you will build, the more you will be liked (and remembered), and the greater the connection.

    Take care


    • Thanks for the input Colin. You are right on the mark. The more we focus on listening in any relationship, whether work or professional, the more we learn and understand. Of course, easier said than done. It really does take practice becoming an effective listener, myself included. Sounds like you’ve developed some muscles in this area. Keep up the listening!