With better listening comes a better understanding of your prospects’ needs. When you hear and internalize what they are saying, you can present valuable solutions and set yourself apart as a trusted resource instead of someone who is simply trying to make a sale.

While most sales professionals know the importance of listening during sales calls, many find it difficult to pause their own talking. Instead, they are often so excited to get the appointment or to pitch their product or service that they don’t take a moment to listen to the prospect.

According to Trey Morris, a senior consultant for The Center for Sales Strategy, silence is golden in sales. It’s a chance to focus and listen to what the prospect has to say. The more skilled you get at listening, the more effective your sales conversations will be.

If you could use some quick reminders on how to listen better during sales calls, read on. We share Morris’ three best practices in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Only ask one question at a time. In an effort to learn as much as possible as fast as possible, many sales reps will ask a series of complex questions that run together. Morris advises against this because it can confuse the prospect. It is difficult to fully respond to two, three or four questions at a time. Instead of addressing all your questions, the prospect will likely choose the easiest one to answer, and you won’t get answers to your other questions. To listen better, the first step is asking the right questions, and asking one at a time.

2. Actively listen and take notes. According to Morris, the key is to stay active in your listening. Remember that you can’t actively listen if you are thinking about what you want to ask next. You can listen better by coming prepared with questions you want to ask. This allow you to take notes without wondering where the conversation is headed. Morris adds that taking notes also keeps you focused on the task at hand and helps you when you return to the office to prepare your proposal.

3. Ask, listen, ask. You can also improve your listening in sales calls by stopping and listening after you have asked a question. Don’t jump into follow-up questions or rush into your sales pitch without fully listening to the prospect’s answer to your question. Remember, you are there to uncover their needs and understand how you can help them. Morris says that if the prospect is not giving you much to work with, you can always say, “Tell me more.” This gives the prospect time to expand on their answer and gives you more time to actively listen.

Listening well is a crucial skill in sales. You can help your sales reps improve their active listening and boost your own listening skills by remembering to only ask one question a time, taking notes during sales conversations, and pausing before asking a follow-up question. Sales professionals who excel at listening can start more conversations, uncover more challenges and goals, and close more deals.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Trey Morris is a senior consultant for The Center for Sales Strategy. He has more than 25 years of experience in advertising and works with sales managers and sales professionals to develop their natural talents.