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Listen or Lose




Sales performers usually have excellent listening skills.  And those who lose sales often talk too much, in many cases overpowering the customer!


Research has shown that in a typical 60-minute sales call, a salesperson takes up:

  • 50% of the time making product statements
  • 15% of the time asking questions and
  • 10% making other statements

So, what’s wrong with this picture?  How much time does the most important person in the room (the customer/prospect) get to talk?


Indeed, when people aren’t heard or listened to, they know it!  Consequently, trust and rapport, the keys to making sales, are often not developed.


Improving Listening Skills

So, how can salespeople improve their listening skills and comprehension abilities?

  1. Listen to understand, not to respond:  Give your prospects all the time they want to speak.  And, resist the urge to interrupt with remarks or solutions until you hear them out!
  2. Use the power of silence:  Strategic pauses after the prospect makes a remark helps reinforce that the salesperson is actively listening to the prospect and taking time to think of a response.  A lack of pauses can lead people to believe that they are getting an automatic or “canned” response to their concerns.
  3. Maintain eye contact:  Even if you are taking notes during the conversation, make sure that you make eye contact often.  A lack of eye contact has been shown to negatively impact levels of trust and rapport.
  4. Use reflective listening:  Actively listen to your prospect, then summarize your understanding of his or her needs.  Repeating and paraphrasing what the prospect has just said ensures that you correctly understand her needs and helps her gain trust in you.   Reflective listening skills are a trait of many successful salespeople.


The saying “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth—use them in that ratio” applies to salespeople more than any other profession.  Indeed, good listening skills yield great sales results.  So, next time your prospect starts talking, be sure to shut up!


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