Our ability to serve our customers and prospects well is contained in our ability to listen. Most telephone salespeople were convinced by some friend or relative to get into sales because they had the gift of gab rather than the gift of listening. In all sales situations, the gift of listening far outweighs the gift of gab.

To become a better listener, you need to understand why you would want to improve that skill. What’s your desire or motivation for improving? If the why is large enough, the how becomes much easier. The why includes more sales, shorter sales cycle, higher conversion of leads, and more referrals because your client service is better.

On any sales call, there is one party who has the most important and relevant information, opinions, and comments. Hint . . . that person isn’t you! What the other person has to say, along with how they receive it, process it, and respond to it, will determine your income. This truth must be ingrained in your brain. You need to review that before each prospecting session.

Sometimes, one of the best ways to learn something is to evaluate how not to do it. By knowing how not to do something, we can apply the 180-degree theory to success.

“I got this nailed.”

Too often, when we get entrenched in our scripts and dialogues, we don’t listen as well as we should. When we are so focused on getting to the sales presentation or closing section of our script, we forget to listen along the way. We miss the nuances that any good telephone salesperson must pick up on to make the script come alive.

Our pre-call preparation can be over the top and work to our detriment. I know that as you are reading this, you are thinking, “Dirk always hammers on scripts and dialogues and pre-call planning, and now he’s changing.” I am definitely not changing, just giving you a little caution. There are times when telephone salespeople over-prepare and think they already know everything about the client. When the prospect tells you something about their needs, you think, “I already know that.” We are using one ear and have half our brain tied behind our back. We miss the client’s real view, so we miss the opportunities to serve and sell. We can have a false sense of security on our call because of the knowledge we acquire through our study and pre-planning. We need the preparation, scripts, and dialogues; what we don’t need are the blinders on from over-preparation, the pre-conceived ideas of what the client needs based only on our research, and rigidity to a fault in our scripting.

“I’m the expert; just ask me.”

This is where we are looking for openings to flex our mental muscles. We are listening for openings to impress them with our knowledge and preparation, rather than really hearing the client’s needs. We get antsy to demonstrate to the client how much we know. This anxiousness can lead us to interrupt prospects because of our excitement for the sale. When you feel that anxiety, it means you really aren’t listening. What the prospect has to say is always more important than what the salesperson has to say.

“Enough about you; how about me?”

This is similar to the “I’m the expert; just ask me” problem. The difference is you are looking for the openings to make your presentation or pitch. We are scanning the conversation exclusively for the cue to leap into the “sales pitch”. I despise the term “sales pitch”, but it really describes the technique that most salespeople end up using when they are experiencing this syndrome. These salespeople, at best, are selectively listening. They only hear what they want to hear. The minute they hear something that resembles the opening they are looking for, they start the wind-up and throw their pitch.

Listening is at the core of working harder. It’s harder to hold yourself back from blathering. It’s more challenging to ask good questions and shut up for their answers. If every salesperson could do that, the sales in your company would explode.

Listening is also the epitome of working smarter. Knowing with certainly the prospect’s wants, needs, expectations, time frame, desires, motivation, authority to take action, and financial ability gives you the edge. It enables you to move to your sales presentation more effectively with a higher close rate when you do make the presentation.

If you want to learn more about how to engage with your prospects you will be interested in our newest course, Sales Language of a Champion. We are opening the new course for our Champions Circle Members next week. The first session is Monday, March 7th, 2016. Click here to find out how to become a member and gain access to this new course:

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