A recent LinkedIn Sales Report which surveyed 500 Buyers and 500 Sales Managers came up with a startling result: 42% of the surveyed Buyers said that active listening was the most desired trait they wanted to see in salespeople. By contrast, only 26% of Sales Managers saw this as the most important. Overall Sales Managers rated it as the 7th most valuable trait when recruiting salespeople.

What is active listening, and how can salespeople and sales managers improve their active listening skills?

Active listening can be defined as making the conscious effort to hear and understand the complete message being spoken, rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker.

You may well remember a meeting when you or a colleague did some (or all) of the following:

  1. Interrupted the customer or cut them off to make a comment
  2. Finished the customer’s sentences for them
  3. Did not answer the customer’s questions
  4. Missed key customer concerns by not asking the right follow-up questions
  5. Deployed the irritating habit of saying ‘Mmm’ and ‘Uh ha’, which disturbed the customers talking pattern
  6. Fell into the trap of being distracted by the environment around them, rather than concentrating on the customer

This is what buyers find so frustrating: they feel that salespeople just simply do not listen to them, and do not make any effort to understand them or their challenges.

So how do we become better active listeners? Here are some effective tips to improve your active listening.

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Above all, “Shut Up & Listen” (SUAL) – there is no active listening without listening!

Research has suggested that we spend 70% to 80% of our waking hours in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend 46% listening. Being more effective listeners has immediate benefits. It improves trust between the salesperson and buyer, it enables you to ask pertinent questions to establish their true needs, it reduces sales cycle times and increases the likelihood of success.

Jonathan Adams, Senior Consultant (jonathanadams@sbrconsulting.com)


To talk to us more on how you can develop your active listening and other skills, please get in touch by emailing info@sbrconsulting.com or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740.

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