In a previous post, we talked about the cushion. It’s one of the communication tools you must develop if you want to dominate resolving objections. Another communication tool you’ll need to develop are your listening skills.
We cover listening skills extensively in our sales leadership and sales coaching sessions. However, these skills are also critical when you are opening a sales call, sitting across from your prospect conducting an analysis, and especially when responding to your client’s objections.
Typically, when you’re in a situation requires your listening skills, there’s a certain listening level to which we typically rise. Different situations will cause us to rise to different levels of listening. For example, you will listen to a child telling you about their school day at a different level than you would listen to your doctor talking about your test results.
5 Levels of Listening
Here are the 5 levels of listening we review in our sessions:
- Ignore: At this level, we intentionally don’t listen. This is your level of engagement when you want to get rid of someone who is wasting your time. Yes, this level does have its uses.
- Pretend: At this level, you create the illusion that you are listening. Usually, you’ll use your body language and modulate your voice to make the other party believe you are listening to them. But in reality, you are not paying close attention to what they are saying.
- Selective: Here, you are listening for the things you want to hear and can use. Typically, couples having an argument will settle in this level. They listen for the appropriate place to intervene so they can make their point.
- Attentive: Here, you listen carefully to the message content.
- Empathetic: At this level, you listen from the other person’s perspective and can identify the content and emotion that the sender is expressing. At this level, you don’t judge the message. You are only attempting to understand as the other party sees and delivers the message.
Listening Skills in Resolving Objections
Now, when you are resolving objections, you are using your language to engage your prospect or client. And you’re listening to the responses to honestly see things from their perspective. Naturally, you want to be at the attentive or empathetic level to be in the best position to resolve the objection.
Now remember, your prospect or client is also at a listening level. If they are at the attentive or empathetic level, then you are resolving a real objection. However, if they are trying to get you out of their office by ignoring you, pretending to listen, or sometimes even selectively listening for the right trigger phrase, then you are engaged in a put-off. It’s time to head back to the start of your sales process.
6 Tactics to Strengthen Your Listening Skills
Here are 6 specific tactics to strengthen your listening skills:
Look at the Other PersonNot looking at the other person in the conversation is a dead give-away that you are preoccupied. Either that or you’re simply not interested in what your presenter has to say. It sends a nonverbal signal that there is something more deserving of your attention than the current conversation.
Ask QuestionsAsking questions and summarizing what you heard are verbal ways to let the other person know you are paying attention. If you are using the telephone as your communication tool and you don’t have the advantage of looking at your prospect or client, you’ll need to lean more heavily on asking questions and summarizing what you heard.
Don’t InterruptWe’ve all had those moments where the light bulb went off, we understood what our prospect or client was saying, and we wanted to prove it by jumping in and finishing their thought. Please refrain from doing this. Interrupting the other person when presenting their ideas also sends an unspoken message – what they are saying isn’t important to you. Let the other person know that their ideas and what they have to say are important. This is critical in resolving objections. And it’s absolutely vital in your coaching sessions.
Stay on SubjectNaturally, you want to stay focused on the subject at hand. While it may make sense to bring in a related topic or solution, you don’t want to stray too far off course and send the unspoken message that something you are thinking about is more important than the current conversation. Stay focused on the current topic at hand.
Emotional ControlYou want to be engaged. You want to be animated. And you want to express your views with passion. What you don’t want is to be controlled by emotions and have your conversation partner control you with a few, well placed words. I have seen sales reps lose deals because they had to be right and argued with the prospect. Reps have lost deals because they encountered an objection that they didn’t feel comfortable with and found themselves controlled by fear and desperation. I’ve seen reps lose sales because they got angry over a competitor sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Remember, emotional content is a good thing to have, but only if you maintain control.
Appropriate ResponsesLastly, you want to be sure your response is appropriate to the situation at hand. You want to show that you were paying attention to the conversation. If you are at the highest level of listening, your response can be anything from an acknowledgement giving them the green light to continue to a summary of what you heard from their conversation followed by a trial close question. Just remember, to respond appropriately, you must pay attention to your prospect or client. You need to truly see things from their perspective.Here are 6 tactics to develop your listening skills and enhance your ability to communicate with your clients and prospects.
Summary of Developing Your Listening Skills
This is a quick summary of the levels of listening and tactics to enhance your listening skills and to resolving objections faster. In your endeavor to communicate with your prospects and clients, the more skilled you are at using your language to shape the conversation, the faster and easier you will find your sales process moving forward. Use this article as a training guide to help you develop your skills and become one of the top sales reps in your organization.
We’ll talk more about communication and listening skills in the future when we review coaching procedures for your team. But for now, realize that any process that makes you a more adept communicator will ease any friction in the sales process and make you a more efficient, and effective sales rep.
Discover more about resolving objections. Click here to get your copy of 7 Steps to Resolving Objections. A quick how-to guide to help sales reps resolve objections quicker and more efficiently.
Oh, and One More Thing…
Giving a shout out to my followers on social media who found my book, Selling is an Away Game, in a Hudson News location. Travel time is learning time. And readers are leaders! Show them some kudos. Give them a follow!
2 yrs ago my boss started telling me about this Lance guy. So at 9 mons pregnant (w/this peanut) I stayed at work until my due date to learn from him. Today I find his book at John Wayne Airport & am excited to take in even more of his expert knowledge! Big congrats @lancetyson! pic.twitter.com/EBwfTAQ1nQ— Jessie Zahner (@Athletchic) July 25, 2019
👀Spotted in the wild (Hudson News) with prime front and center placement! #bestseller congrats @lancetyson ….although I’m not sure why you’re in the ‘fiction’ section?!? (joking of course 🤣😂🤣) pic.twitter.com/ZTgXMp6Sjm— Ryan Cook (@CookTBL) July 24, 2019