What makes a good sales person?
Ask many people that question and the majority will say; talk more; wear smart suits; be extrovert; drive a nice expensive car.
Nothing wrong with engaging in the art of conversation, or wearing nice clothes and driving a fast car. This all adds to the persona.
However the single biggest skill is that of listening.
Two ears, one mouth
Good sales people should listen twice as much as they talk. Without effective listening skills, how will the sales person really know what their customers want?
Listen, listen and listen some more!
There are several listening modes.
Biased listening: The listener already knows what is going to be said next by the speaker and interrupts the speaker, before they have a chance to finish their sentence. The sales person may think he is trying to cleverly second guess his client or may want to speed up the negotiations.
- Disregarding listening: The listener is not listening at all as they are being distracted by what’s going on in the background and are not paying attention, such as watching TV, reading a newspaper.
- Subliminal listening: When you are at a party talking to a group of people and suddenly above the loud background noise you may hear your name being mentioned and your head perks up.
- Sympathetic listening: This is when you are empathic to a listener, for example, when you are listening to a friend. To offer empathy you may say, “I know what you mean” or “Yes I have been there”.
- Affirmative listening: Here the listener will use positive reinforcement comments to encourage the speaker. Phrases like “I agree with you”, “That’s true”
Best kind of listening
The most important type of listening skill should be that of active listening.
Active listening is the ability to focus completely on what the client is saying; not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires and to support the clients self expression. This type of listening will encourage the client to participate more in the sales process by offering active conformations of understanding (e.g. nodding, asking them to go on, to add more information).
- Level 3 listening involves the sales person paying attention to the dialog and the client’s state of mind to offer a deeper meaning. This requires the highest form of concentration.
- Level 2 listening involves the sales person paying attention to the words spoken in particular if he is making notes.
- Level 1 listening, is when the listener only partially hears what is going on as they are focusing on their next response to the speaker.
Make sure you get 2.5 out of 3!
At this in-between level (of 2 and 3) provides the most flexibility for the sales person especially for note taking and more verbal dialog. This will also give the client more clarity and a knowing that the sales person is interested in them.