The Most Critical Sales Skill And How To Develop It


I talk and write a lot about ways to increase value to the customer during the sales process.  One of the most critical ways to do this is also one of the most overlooked ways:  being a good listener.  Developing good listening skills is key to winning sales.

Being a good listener is essential to the sales process because there is no way to build trust without it.  Listening well tells the other person you value them and are interested in what they have to say.  A sales rep who makes customers feel he/she is not listening is a sales rep who loses the sale.  Customers stop listening to sales reps who are not listening to them.

Here are seven practical ways to develop — and demonstrate — good listening skills:

1. Be fully present.  Make sure your attention is focused completely on your customer – your customer will know if it isn’t.  Face whomever is speaking to you, maintain eye contact, and have good posture.

2. Listen without thinking about what you’re going to say when the other person stops talking. Be intent on understanding others, not just waiting for your turn to talk.

3. Pause before you speak, and remember to breathe.  This demonstrates you’ve not violated #2 above.

4. Take notes. This keeps you focused on what they are saying and helps with the meeting summary you will send later.

5. Paraphrase back what they said.  Not only does this show that you have heard your customer, but it also gives them an opportunity to share more information, which they generally will.

6. Ask questions. This is more important than just saying, “That’s interesting, tell me more,” or, “What was the cause?” or, “What will that do for you?”  Ask “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how” questions.

7. Summarize what was said before answering or moving on.  This gives the customer the opportunity to add anything he/she may have forgotten to say and gives everyone the cue that it’s time move on to the next topic.

To be a good listener, you must first desire to be a good listener, know (or learn) how to be a good listener, and then practice being a good listener.  Without conscious practice, you will not succeed.

I encourage people to practice these skills with  peers at work, or even with family.  Many problems in marriage and family are exacerbated by the fact that neither party is truly listening, and everyone (especially teenagers!) just wants to be heard.  Better listening will build trust, resolve minor problems, and create a much happier and more profitable environment at home and at work.

Want to help your sales reps improve their listening skills? 

Contact me for a free consultation on learning options today!


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