Ask many people that question and the majority will say; talk more; wear smart suits; be extrovert; drive a nice expensive car, etc.
Nothing wrong with engaging in the art of conversation or wearing nice clothes, and driving a fast car. All this adds to the persona.
However, the single biggest skill is that of listening.
Two ears, one mouth
Good salespeople should listen twice as much as they talk. Without practical listening skills, how will the salesperson know what their customers want?
Listen, listen and listen some more!
There are several listening modes.
Biased listening: The listener already knows what will be said next by the speaker and interrupts the speaker before they can finish their sentence. The salesperson may think he is trying to guess his client cleverly or may want to speed up the negotiations.
- Disregarding listening: The listener is not listening at all as they are distracted by what’s going on in the background and are not paying attention, such as watching TV or 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, 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 essential type of listening skill should be that of active listening.
Active listening is the ability to focus entirely on what the client is saying or not saying. This type of listening will encourage the client to participate in the sales process by offering active conformations of understanding (e.g., nodding, asking them to go on, to add more information).
However, this requires the highest form of concentration.
- Level 1 listening is when the listener only partially hears what is going on and focuses on their subsequent response to the speaker.
- Level 2 listening involves the salesperson paying attention to the words spoken, particularly if he is making notes.
- Level 3 listening involves the salesperson paying attention to the dialog and the client’s state of mind to offer a deeper meaning.
Make sure you get 2.5 out of 3!
This in-between level (of 2 and 3) provides the most flexibility for the salesperson, especially for note-taking and more verbal dialog, giving the client more clarity and knowledge that the salesperson is interested in them.