The Power of Listening to Make Sales
By Kirk Heiner

“Talking about ourselves triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.”

Listening is one of the most powerful tools for making sales … one that most sales people fail to use effectively.

Listening is also one of the most neglected sales skills. People love to be listened to. They deeply desire to be heard. Listening can take your salesgame to a new level.

A Powerful Reason Listening Matters

Studies at Harvard University revealed that when we talk about ourselves it triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.

It went on to say, “Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” That means, most of the time they’re not really listening. They are simply waiting for their time to talk.

Benefits of Listening

Listening can:

■ Increase your closing ratio
■ Help you build trust
■ Give you deeper insights about your prospects

Listening also creates rapport, and conveys empathy. Learning how to listen well can make potential clients feel safe as well as understood. Listening helps you design the right solution.

But even though we all know listening is important, how many people actually invest the time to become a better listener?

Brian Tracy, sales expert, simply said, “Listening wins sales.” He goes on to say that most salespeople, “talk too much and talk too fast.”

In your sales conversations, take your time and slow down. Listen more and pay focused attention to what your prospects are trying to say, because in that, they’ll reveal to you just how to sell them. Look for subtle things in what they are saying to find insights as to what’s most important to them.

Listening is a Skill

Listening is a skill that must be developed and honed. And it’s not just what they’re saying, but also how they are saying it. Listen to their tone of voice, concerns and frustrations. Often people’s tone of voice will convey frustration, desire or perhaps even confusion. When they sigh, it could express that they are exasperated about something.

If you pick up on these important signals, you can tap into that emotion and have it help you make the sale. Remember, people desperately desire to be understood.

What the Experts Say

Consumer Expert Ross Shafer said, “Today’s consumer doesn’t want customer service. What they want is customer empathy. They want to know you understand what they’re going through in the process.”

People buy for emotional reasons, not logical ones. No matter who you are, or how good you are at this, the odds are you can be a better listener, and in doing so, close more sales.

Big Challenge

One of the biggest challenges in listening is that people speak on average around 180 words a minute, but our brains can process around 800 words a minute.

So when someone else is speaking, we can very easily let our minds drift off or move ahead of them. When your natural instincts are wanting to race ahead of them, it takes discipline to focus, tune in and simply listen. Then you want to ask questions to clarify, and gain greater insights.

The most important aspect of becoming a better listener is when people feel listened to, they feel good about you. Those good feelings, in turn, make them want to buy from you. 

You may be the only person this week who truly listened to what they had to say.

Ask yourself, “What do you think would happen if you asked great questions, then simply listened?” You could very well gain information to help you meet a client’s needs. You could also gather insights your competitors will never have.

More Good Reasons to Listen More

Another reason listening is so powerful is that it makes people feel validated. Their self-esteem goes up. It creates connection and builds rapport.

When you’re listening, don’t forget to listen beyond their words. Listen to their tone of voice and watch their body language.

So what do you listen for? You’re listening for clues about what bothers them:

■ Problems they want to solve
■ Fears they might have about products or processes
■ Goals they want to achieve

If you sell remodeling, they may have never gone through a remodel before and are afraid because of horror stories they’ve heard about remodeling. They will give you the keys to owning the sale if you listen intently. Listen for emotional hot buttons and key concerns.

Why People Buy

Most people buy for one or two key reasons. You need to find those key reasons. Listening helps you get there. Keep in mind that a big part of listening is about not interrupting the prospects while they’re speaking.

The Takeaway

If you upgrade your listening skills, you automatically upgrade your sales skills and your ability to persuade.

Unfortunately, most people who read this will never put to use the insights they just gained. You can make a difference in your business to take hold of this powerful concept, and be rewarded for doing it.

Before you go on with your day, take a moment and make the decision to be a better listener. In your interactions today, listen with greater intention. Ask questions to confirm what you think you heard. Take notes. I promise, if you take the time to get better at simply listening, you will prosper more in your relationships and your finances.

About the Author

Kirk Heiner has more than 30 years’ experience in the kitchen & bath Industry. He helps showroom owners and managers increase market share by becoming radically customer driven. He’s conducted training events and seminars for corporations like Lowe’s, DuPont, Danze, Stock Building Supply, AWFS, KBIS, the National Kitchen & Bath Association and many more. For more information or to contact him, visit www.