There are many books and articles out there that tell us that sales people need to listen more. If you do an Internet search on the word combination “developing listening skills” Google will spit back at you more than 2 million web references. Most of that material pretty much tells us the same thing: Use active listening, nod your head to show that you are listening, repeat back what you heard, ask clarifying questions, listen to understand, listen with your eyes, etc.
However, much of what we call “listening” actually deals with where our attention is focused and understanding the information that we receive. Realize that your client is always communicating something to you. It’s up to you as a sales person to take in as much information as possible, understand what is being communicated, interpret it in the appropriate context, and then use it to provide a suitable solution.
1. Listen to the speed and cadence of your prospect’s speech patterns.
There are gross generalizations that we can apply here, such as people that talk fast are from the Northeast while those that talk at a slower pace are from the South. These types of gross generalizations are just that, gross, and they will get you into trouble.
Remember that you want to communicate effectively with your client, not to look for generalizations to make your life easier. And you communicate most effectively with your clients when you talk like them. When you speak, match their speed and cadence. If you insist on talking at a fast pace because you were told that talking fast conveys excitement, then you are missing an opportunity with the prospect that associates a slower pace with trust and certainty.
Typically, when sales people speak with no regard for how their client is speaking, the result is that neither one communicates as effectively as possible. If you want to achieve rapport and communicate as effectively as possible, then exercise your flexibility and talk like your prospect. When you introduce yourself or when you ask questions, listen to the cadence of your prospect’s voice and then talk at their rate in order to initiate and sustain the communication process.