Has anyone ever told you that you’re a good listener? If so, you should consider a career in entry-level sales. Many people think a good salesperson is someone who likes to talk…a lot. The truth is: the most successful salespeople are those who know how to engage in active listening.
Being an active listener is not as simple as just hearing someone when they speak—hearing happens without any thought. Active listening, however, is the process of consciously deciding to understand what someone is really saying. While this can be helpful in daily interactions with friends, family, and coworkers, it’s a critical skill for anyone considering an entry-level sales career.
Are you fully engaged?
Active listening requires your full engagement. It takes the right mix of verbal and nonverbal cues to demonstrate your interest and trustworthiness, which is imperative for a positive interaction with your potential customer.
While he or she is speaking, the occasional, affirming “Mm-hmm,” “Right” or “I see” are great ways to keep the prospect talking. While this is happening, make a few mental notes (or physical ones, if needed), so you can ask relevant questions during your conversation. Doing so can help clarify what’s been said and assert your attentiveness. And when appropriate, summarize and then verbally paraphrase their main points to ensure you and the prospect are on the same page.
One of the simplest ways to show active listening nonverbally is by maintaining eye contact. If you’re gazing out the window or at your phone, the person speaking will think you’re disinterested. Also, maintain good posture and use appropriate gestures, such as occasionally nodding, to show you’re still engaged.
Why it’s important
Above all else, customers want to feel important. They’re not going to listen to your sales pitch if they think you don’t care about what matters most to them. And, there’s no better way to do that than through active listening.
For some, active listening is natural. For others, it’s a skill that needs to be honed. So, whether you need to practice or you’re just one of those fortunate few who’s always been a good listener, implementing this technique could help you grow from good to great.