Active listening in sales: techniques to improve communication with customers

Active listening in sales: techniques to improve communication with customers

Active listening in sales

The soft skills -soft skills- are essential for building effective relationships in sales. However, they are often overlooked in the sales training or recruiting process.

Did you know that the better the listening skills of your sales reps, the better their conversations will be?

Why is active listening important in sales?

 Customers don’t want you to sell them just one product or service. In fact, according to a study by Wunderman, 79% of consumers said they would only buy from brands that show they understand and care about them. For salespeople to truly connect with customers and drive higher sales, it is essential that they acquire active listening skills.

Active listening in sales facilitates relationships with prospects, helps solve customer problems, and ensures their satisfaction and loyalty.

If your salespeople aren’t qualified listeners, your sales will suffer. Therefore, we suggest you take a look at the definition of active listening and what active listening means in sales. We’ll also see how to use listening techniques to answer objections, provide helpful solutions, and sell more. Shall we start?

What is active listening in sales?

The definition of active listening involves first understanding and then being understood. It’s about more than just listening, it means being attentive and truly absorbing the other party’s point of view.

Active listening in sales involves listening with all your senses and requires paying full attention to what the customer is saying. In short, active listening occurs when your sales agents establish a dialogue where trust and mutual understanding are built.

There are various techniques for listening to the customer. Active listening in sales will allow you to efficiently serve your customers and potential potential customers . It also helps you understand what is important to them, giving you the opportunity to respond with a set of solutions that are tailored to their needs.

Active listening is a four-step process:

  1. Listen carefully;
  2. Give an opinion on what was heard;
  3. Confirm that you heard correctly;
  4. Ask a relevant follow-up question to further ensure understanding.

Importance of active listening in sales 

Here are a few more reasons why active listening is one of the fundamental skills of a salesperson :

  • Answering objections: When a salesperson listens more than he talks, he will be able to better understand all the objections and doubts of the customer. This makes it much easier for them to discover, address, and respond to those objections.
  • Overcome initial resistance from customers: When salespeople start a call, they may hear the customer say they don’t need help or don’t have time to talk. In that case, the salesperson can use active listening to open up the conversation and show that they are there to help solve a problem the customer is facing.
  • Close more sales: By improving and taking care of the dialogue with the customer, active listening in sales allows closing more deals. Conversations become more cordial and less aggressive.

Listening techniques for salespeople

Now that you know what active listening is in sales, we leave you 5 simple techniques to apply and improve interactions with your customers.

1. Slow down the conversation

Sales reps tend to be talkative people with lots of ideas and opinions; however, knowing how to communicate them is key.

Talking too quickly can only damage your relationship with potential clients , as they will lose interest or find your approach to be aggressive. To avoid it:

  • enter the conversation at a moderate speed;
  • pause in case clarification is needed;
  • applies effective listening and asks questions to guide and progress the buying process .

2. Don’t interrupt

If you interrupt your client you run the risk of missing something interesting that your prospect would have said given the opportunity. Choose carefully the moments to intervene in the conversation with your client. Active listening in sales is essential to record valuable information. 

Lose the fear of silence. By applying effective listening, you will find that if you pause when your client has finished speaking, you will often have something to add. If you want to clarify something or need the client to repeat an information, you can communicate it once the person has concluded their idea.

3. Confirm the information

At the end of each interaction, it is important to confirm that you understood the message correctly. Don’t forget to ask thought-provoking questions that take the conversation to a deeper level. To achieve this, we leave you some questions that you can ask to confirm if you really understood the client:

  • “Have I communicated correctly?”
  • “Did I understand well what you have shared?”
  • “Is that what you wanted to say?”

The salesperson can repeat the customer’s ideas and confirm them again for clarity until mutual understanding occurs.

4. Ask follow-up questions

Once you confirm that you understand the customer, the next step is to ask a relevant follow-up question.

We recommend asking open questions that allow your client to open up and share more about their plans or needs.

Open questions allow your prospects to express themselves. And asking the right questions can guide them to the right conclusion. You can use questions like:

  • “What problem would you like to solve with our product?”
  • “Did you find the information you were looking for on our website?”
  • “What can we do to make you more satisfied with our service?”

On the other hand, it is important for sales agents to avoid passive communication. Passive communicators have difficulty expressing their needs. They hesitate to say what they think because they do not want to cause conflict.

The main difference between active and passive communication is that in the former , feedback is part of the conversation. You practice this type of communication when you practice active listening and offer a response.

You may be interested in reading: Customer feedback: what is it, what is its importance and 3 good practices to collect it.

5. Interpret emotions

The active listening technique in sales also involves paying attention to what a person is feeling. You may find that it is difficult to interpret a conversation on the phone because the ability to read a person’s body language is lost, but it is possible to recognize emotions in the tone of voice and stress levels. 

According to Albert Mehrabian , a prestigious psychologist who pioneered research on non-verbal behavior, 93% of communication is non-verbal.

It is important for your sales team to develop skills to recognize the volume, speed and tone of people’s voices to identify how customers are feeling.

How to successfully implement active listening in your sales process?

If you think these active listening techniques can improve the service your agents provide, how about learning about the technology that can take you to the next level?

The software client care Zendesk has several tools to help you establish fluid dynamics in the sales area, focusing on retention and customer loyalty.

With Zendesk your business can:

  • promote the efficiency of agents with collaboration tools;
  • offer a personal touch on a large scale and personalize the interaction with each consumer;
  • manage a unified view of customers with valuable data for complete analysis;
  • manage and respond to complaints or inquiries from a single place.