Blog Post for PersistIQ

4 Steps to Better Listening and More Sales

If you want to hit your sales quota, you have to know how to listen.

Jonathan Farrington, a globally-recognized business coach, mentor, and consultant says:

“The very best sales professionals devote a large portion of the sales interview to listening, because sincere listening demonstrates sincere interest. Ultimately, good listening is the shortest distance between you and more sales; better sales, faster sales.”

So how does one actually listen? It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re nervous.

That’s why we’ve come up with four easy and effective tips you can start implementing today…

1. Understand Your Product/Service

You’ve got to have your bases covered. There’s no way around it.

This doesn’t mean memorizing scripts or reciting what your company tells you about your product.

It means knowing your product or service inside and out, particularly in regards to what pain points it addresses and how it adds value.

Really get into the mindset of your customer. How would having this product make his or her life easier?

When you have that insight at the tip of your tongue, you can easily come up with relevant examples on the spot that are perfectly suited to your prospect’s individual situation.

That know-how, and the confidence it inspires, allows you to spend more time listening to your prospect and less time thinking about what you’re going to say. This empowers you to really connect with your prospect and, when you do speak, to address his or her specific needs. And that makes you a valuable partner – someone worthy of building a relationship with.

2. Be Humble

When you’re humble, you let the prospect guide you.

Humility allows you to skillfully respond to a prospect’s overt and subtle cues, because you stop trying to prove yourself and instead place your attention on the prospect.

That opens up the airwaves so you can actually hear the prospect’s needs and desires and respond accordingly.

As a result, you gain powerful insight into how to explain your product’s value in the language your prospect will most strongly relate to. And if they’re not a fit, your humility allows you to get the message, cut your losses, and move on early in the process, making you a more efficient and productive sales professional overall.

3. Relax

When you’re relaxed, you’re not worrying about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it. Read: you can actually put your attention into listening.

And if you’re sufficiently prepared and can genuinely get behind what you’re selling, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t relax.

So how do you do this when nerves are firing? A good place to start is by breathing.

Take a few moments to focus on breathing before a major call – it’s a simple trick that can work wonders for the relaxation factor. And if you still feel nervous once you’re on the call, just continue to take deep, regular breaths as the conversation allows. And remember the next very important tip…

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

As soon as we experience fear, our bodies react.

Our physiological response produces, among other things, increase in heart rate and blood pressure, tense muscles, and difficulty concentrating on small tasks. Yep. Difficulty concentrating on small tasks.

It’s fight or flight, and when you’re in that state, your body doesn’t want to have a calm and educational conversation on the phone. It’s not what nature intended.

Your brain synapses will be firing and your focus will be on self-preservation instead of where it should be: the prospect. And good listening definitely goes out the window.

But never fear (pun intended), we’ve got a tip. And it’s one you’ll hear from all the most successful salespeople.

Until you’ve achieved grand master status in the art of selling and can go forth with 120% confidence every time, a first step toward conquering fear is being OK with the fact that, sometimes, you might fail.

Sounds harsh, I know. But think about. Really. What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t win over a prospect? Will someone end up dead? Will you commit a sin so horrible it will be written in the sands of time – forever?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, I would seriously recommend looking for new employment.

So lighten up and work on shaking off that fear. The more you can be okay with any possible outcome, the more confident and stress-free you can walk into a conversation.

When you do that, fear-response is down, mental channels are clear, and you’re automatically a hundred steps closer to great listening.

Then you can have a great conversation.