The idea that verbally dominating a conversation will increase the likelihood of closing a sale is no more. These days, salespeople don’t hold all the cards; in the digital age our prospects can know everything about our products, business and what we had for breakfast with a couple of clicks or swipes of the thumb.
What is the answer to this conundrum? I’ll give you a clue, they sit on either side of your head.
Studies have shown that the highest yielding B2B salespeople have a talk: listen ratio (i.e. words spoken by the seller vs. the buyer) of 43:57. When you actively listen, you can clearly identify your prospects’ key problems and offer them a tailored solution. As a result, when you listen and listen attentively, you can increase your sales opportunities and have more engaging conversations with the customers and prospects you interact with on a day to day basis.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts which should be considered when making sure your prospects are engaged and feel understood:
- Ask Confirming Questions – This tells the prospect that you’re engaged and tuned in to the conversation. A great way of drawing the key issues from the prospect is the Open- Probe- Confirm (OPC) questioning technique. This also helps to build trust and rapport.
- Pay attention to what isn’t being said – The research indicates that 93% of communication between people is non-verbal. When speaking to prospects and clients there is a constant transfer of information between you, the vast majority of which cannot be heard.
- Focus on your body language – In the virtual world, be more conscious of facial expressions, the tone and pitch of your voice and body language – research shows that delays on phone or conferencing systems can shape our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.
- Multitask – This is more tempting than ever in the virtual world where a phone or browser window can be out of sight (for the person you’re talking to) and therefore you may think that you’re ‘getting away with it’. The reality is that whether they know it or not your attention is not fully on them. Studies have shown that people are in fact, incapable of focusing on more than one thing at a time. When people multitask, quality suffers. Your prospects and clients deserve your undivided attention.
- Interrupt – This means that you are no longer listening. If you wait your turn to speak and respond thoughtfully, your prospect will feel their opinion is valued.
- Prejudge – Our brains process information extremely fast and the tendency is to make assumptions and jump to conclusions about what the other person is going to say.
As we all come to terms with this “new normal” world of communicating, remember that although it’s never been easier to connect with people, we may need to adapt the way that we listen and actively respond to our clients and prospects from around the world.