The phone, a non-visual medium, makes listening difficult when all the clues are missing. Yet, this important skill determines how well we engage with our prospects. Today’s customers want a trusting relationship and when salespeople actively listen to their needs without making assumptions or being on their own agenda. This video examines poor listening habits and provides active listening tips, such as paraphrasing and notes documentation, that will build trust and rapport with prospects.
- Selling in a non-visual medium over the phone or online makes it impossible to observe body language and use eye contact. You can't see when your prospect is frowning, glancing at the clock, drumming their fingers, rolling their eyes, shaking their head, folding their arms, or any else that demonstrates they're listening or not listening. That means we have to really pump up our listening skills. Become aware of your listening bad habits.
Most of us have them. Perhaps you're interrupting your prospects, or finishing their sentence, or find yourself prematurely presenting your solution. When your prospects don't feel heard they might get offended, shutdown, and quickly end the call. Many sales people listen by making false assumptions, or what I call happy ears. I can understand the repetitive feeling of making hundreds of calls to prospects who have similar needs.
You start assuming you know what they want and you stop listening, or when we believe we have a great conversation with a prospect who really likes our product or service and explains it perfect that it would be perfect for them, and we assume they're gonna buy. They'll say things such as yeah, this sounds great, we'll put it on our plan for next quarter. We listen with our happy ears and we believe that this will be a sale by next quarter, but there are so many things on the table we still need to uncover.
If you want to improve your listening, spend more time in the moment and less time on your agenda. Do more active listening, which means really hearing what the other person is saying, evaluating in your own mind and responding to it appropriately. The best way to actively listen on the phone is by paraphrasing. This type of listening is when you are restating what the person said in your own words as a method of reflective questioning.
When paraphrasing, you want to confirm and repeat back to the prospect what you just heard in your own words. Paraphrasing can be very tricky. If done correctly, your prospect will feel heard, but if the paraphrase isn't correct your prospect will be annoyed and that will feel awkward. Here's a paraphrasing example that includes both a weak and a strong paraphrase. The statement will sound like this from the prospect saying, our decision making process includes a committee of about eight people who come together to evaluate various solutions.
I'll be making the final decision, we'll ask that you speak with my project manager who will be requesting a proposal. A weak paraphrase from what they just said, coming from the rep, might sound like this, so you make all the decisions for eight people within your organization? Compared to a stronger paraphrase coming from the rep that will sound like this, let me make sure I understand you correctly, you have a team in place that evaluates and recommends vendors before requesting a proposal.
Make sure all your conversations are documented. In the inside sales world, you're only as good as your notes. One of the greatest advantages of being on the phone is that you can take detailed notes unobserved. Taking notes can be the telephone equivalent of in-person eye contact. Not only will taking notes help you with focused listening, it'll help you position yourself by organizing your client's words, ideas on paper, and online.
Your note taking techniques should be fluid and happen immediately after each call. The more information you can integrate into your call, the more information you will receive from your prospect in return. This is the investment in trust and building a relationship.
- Understanding the qualities of successful inside sales pros
- Using the right sales tools
- Social selling with LinkedIn
- Improving your response rate
- Building a foolproof qualification plan
- Getting past gatekeepers
- Handling objections
- Closing the sale