What’s the leading complaint customers make about salespeople in today’s difficult economy? Ask your staff this question and you may get a range of answers, but probably not the correct one. Price, quality and service are all critical concerns but they’re not No. 1 in the minds of customers, according to an annual survey conducted by the Purchasing Management Association. What is at the top of the list? Salespeople who don’t listen enough and talk too much.
Even more interesting is that when the association conducted its first survey more than 40 years ago, the leading complaint was (you guessed it) salespeople who talked too much and didn’t listen enough.
Some salespeople confuse listening with hearing. Hearing is passive. It doesn’t require interaction other than an occasional nod. Hearing is a defense method we use when a bore starts talking. No prospect or customer is ever considered boring by a motivated salesperson.
Benefits of good listening
Here are three benefits of good listening:
1. Listening builds trust. The best salespeople are good listeners who seem concerned with customer needs and help them purchase the products or services in a cost-effective way.
2. Listening lowers resistance. It reduces tension and defensiveness on the part of customers who realize they aren’t going to be pushed into making a purchase through force of words.
3. Listening builds self-esteem for customers. It’s flattering for a customer to know that a salesperson is listening intently to what’s being said. Listening is active
Listening is an active activity in which salespeople pay genuine attention to what customers or prospects say. It’s a skill that requires constant development. When salespeople listen more, what they hear sounds less repetitious and more meaningful.