Everybody talks about the importance of listening, but few people ever hear anything. Most sales reps are so anxious to either get their pitch out or want to answer a question before it is finished being asked, that they never really “absorb” the question. A good rule to follow is for them to wait three seconds before answering, even if they know the answer. That at least gives the impression they’re listening. And they actually may think of another, and maybe better, response during the pause!
Listening well is a skill that can be learned. But for most salespeople, it is very difficult because they have developed a habit of talking and not listening. Here’s an exercise you can try during one of your training sessions:
Have one of your reps try to sell your product to another rep. They get one sentence to introduce themselves and the company. The rest of the sale must be made with questions. The questions need to be built upon the answers given by the rep playing the part of the prospect. For it to work your “prospect” has to be interested in your product and not try to sabotage the exercise. This practice will not only work to strengthen your sales reps’ listening skills, it will also sharpen their questioning skills.
Listening and questioning really go hand-in-hand. How do you know what to ask if you haven’t heard what the other person is saying?
Part-Time Sales Management