Want to close more sales… listen more closely!

Want to close more sales… listen more closely!

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

421Want to close more sales… listen more closely!

Have you ever had a course in listening skills?

How to listen lessons were never offered as part of any formal education. It’s amazing to me that the skills we need the most for personal success were never taught in school.

Listening is arguably the most important aspect of the selling process, yet it’s usually the weakest part of a sales professional’s skills.

We listen to TV, radio and CD’s. and we can recite chapter and verse the next day, or sing the songs word for word. But if your spouse or child says something to you, you say, “What?” or “I didn’t hear you.”

How often do you ask someone to repeat what they said? How often do you hear, “You weren’t listening to a word I said.” There are reasons for poor listening, and thank goodness I’m writing them – otherwise you’d be forced to listen. Here are the fundamental lessons:
LISTEN LESSON #1 The two biggest impediments to listening are:
1. You often have an opinion (of you or what you’re going to say) before you begin listening.
2. You often have made up your mind before you begin listening, or before you hear the full story.
LISTEN LESSON #2 The two important rules of effective listening must be observed in this order or you will not be an effective listener.
1. First, listen with the intent to understand.
2. Second, listen with the intent to respond.
LISTEN LESSON #3 Think about the way you listen right now:

  • Are you doing something else when someone is speaking?
  • Do you have your mind on something else when someone is speaking?
  • Do you fake listening so you can get in your comments?
  • Are you waiting for a pause to get in your response, because you already know the answer?
    LISTEN LESSON #4 At some point you stop listening. When does that occur?
  • After you have formulated your response.
  • After you have been turned off by the speaker.
  • When you decide to interrupt someone to say something.
  • When the person speaking isn’t saying anything you want to hear.

    LISTEN LESSON GUIDELENES: Here are 14.5 guidelines to observe that will maximize your listening skills, increase your productivity, reduce errors, gain customer happiness, and help you make more sales.
    1. Don’t interrupt. (But…but…but)
    2. Ask questions. Then be (veweey, veweey) quiet. Concentrate on the other person’s answers, not your thoughts.
    3. Prejudice will distort what you hear. Listen without prejudging.
    4. Use eye contact and listening noises (um, gee, I see, oh) to show the other person you’re listening.
    5. Don’t jump to the answer before you hear the ENTIRE situation.
    6. Listen for purpose, details, and conclusions.
    7. Active listening involves interpreting. Interpret quietly or take notes.
    8. Listen also to what is not said. Implied is often more important than spoken. HINT: Tone of speech will often reflect implied meaning.
    9. Think between sentences. Think during quiet times.
    10. Digest what is said (and not said) before engaging your mouth.
    11. Ask questions to be sure you understood what was said or meant.
    12. Ask questions to be sure the speaker said all he/she wanted to say.
    13. Demonstrate you are listening by taking action.
    14. If you’re thinking during speaking, think solution. Don’t embellish the problem.
    14.5 Avoid all distractions. Turn off the cell and pager. Close the door. Clear your mind, and sit or stand in close proximity.

    LISTEN LESSON #4.5 What causes people not to listen?

  • Sometimes people are afraid to hear what is about to be said so they block it out. Don’t be afraid to listen.
  • Sometimes you take the other person for granted – spouse, parent, child.
  • Sometimes you’re mentally pre-occupied with other things.
  • Sometimes you’re just rude.
  • Sometimes the person grates on you, so you don’t listen.
  • Sometimes you have other things on your mind.
  • Sometimes you know the person speaking, and have prejudged them.
  • Sometimes you don’t respect the other person and block the listening process.
  • Sometimes you think you already know what is about to be said.
  • Sometimes you think you know it all… or is that all the time?

    There are many secrets to becoming a good listener, but the one that simplifies them all is: Just Shut-up!

    FREE GitBit… Could there be more listening skills? YES THERE ARE! You’d better see what they are, just in case… Go to www.gitomer.com – register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word LISTEN.

    Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com