Most sales reps see listening as a necessary process needed to close deals but may not acknowledge its true power. Really, most reps are often just waiting for their turn to talk or thinking about what to say next, instead of truly listening to the prospect.
Top performers, Funding Pros, understand listening is their greatest tool in closing deals and producing Results. It’s not so much what you say, but what you listen for and key on that makes the biggest difference in dealmaking.
How you listen will determine how effective you are at consulting the influencing the merchant.
With as much information out there as there is now, merchants can run a quick Google search, and in short time, gather as much information about a product as most sales reps have.
Therefore, it is more challenging now for reps to demonstrate their expertise and value – to separate themselves as merchants’ Trusted Advisors.
Establishing trust in sales cycles comes down to building rapport quickly, uncovering buyer needs and making the prospect feel that you understand their world.
Whether its funding deals, making your spouse happy, negotiating, resolving a conflict, or influencing your kids, we need to listen at a deeper level if we want to be effective at achieving our outcomes in those conversations.
Enter Active Listening.
Dr. Carl Rogers, one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research, originated the concept of “reflective listening” in the 1940’s. Several years later, one of his students, Richard Farson renamed it “Active Listening.”
But it was Dr. Thomas Gordon, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and student of Rogers, that popularized the strategy by teaching thousands of therapists and executives. These techniques lead to more effective communication, relationship-building, influence and leadership.
Gordon’s model of Active Listening has four simple steps:
- Truly listen to the prospect.
- Feed back the content and feeling of the prospect’s words.
- Confirm you heard the prospect correctly.
- Ask a relevant follow up question to further clarify your understanding of their situation.
Merchant: “I don’t think you’ll be able to help me. I’ve dealt with companies like yours in the past and I haven’t been happy with the outcomes.”
Funding Pro: “So if I’m hearing you correctly, you don’t feel like I’d be able to help you because you’ve dealt with other similar companies in the past and haven’t been happy with the outcomes. Is that right?”
Merchant: “Yes, exactly. It was too expensive, it didn’t help, the customer service was awful. I’m not doing that again.”
Funding Pro: “Got it, so in the past, it had been too expensive, it didn’t help and the customer service was awful. If I could help you find an option that solved all three of these issues, would it be something you’d be interested in taking a look at?”
Merchant: “I don’t know if that’s even possible, I have a pretty bad taste in my mouth. But, if you could pull that off, then maybe I’d be interested.
How can you use Active Listening on your next call?