Effective Listening: The Most Underrated Skill in Sales


People with excellent listening skills are hard to come by, even among salespeople. Most people think a salesperson should be able to speak well, but they should also know when and how to listen to a client. Many sales teams often do not see a need to improve their team’s listening skills and understand the proper response to a client’s statements. If you think that someone in your team lacks this understanding, they might need more than a sales training workshop.

This seems to be a common mistake for sales rookies; they rush in explaining all the benefits and features of what they’re trying to sell, and they tend to talk over their potential client. Often this results in driving them away. When prospects feel that their concerns are not being addressed, you have lost your potential client.

Breaking a lifetime of lousy listening habits can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort. Here are a few tips to improve your team’s sales training and help them to listen to potential clients effectively:

Active listening

Carefully listening and understanding what the prospect is saying, then following up with a reply containing the main ideas of what they were addressing in their speech is what active listening is all about. By taking this approach, the prospect feels your concern and focus but also will help you pick on those hints that will help you close the sale.

employees listening as a woman speaks

Using active listening in sales helps you to focus on the main points of a client’s speech and recognise verbal clues that will help you close the deal. One other effect of active listening is that it projects an image of the salesperson as entirely focused on every word of the client, which boosts rapport and respect.

Take mental notes

It’s easy to get carried away and start coming up with a response before the other person finishes talking. This is a bad habit of poor listeners; when they are excited by an idea can forget to let the other person finish.

Our brains tend to get ahead and start coming up with a response as soon as you can think of what the other person is saying but by doing so, you miss out on the rest of what they’re saying.

An excellent technique to avoid this is trying to mentally echo what they’re saying, then waiting a few seconds after they’ve stopped talking to deliver your response.


After the prospect finishes talking, take a moment to repeat and summarise the main points of what they’ve said. In this way, you both will be on the same page and do a quick recap where you can clarify any misunderstanding. There’s the opportunity to also go further in detail about some point, making your prospect know that you’re listening.

Throughout the sales cycle, potential clients tend to drop slight hints of what they’re thinking, how they feel about specific ideas or what problems your product or service could solve; if you listen carefully and pick these up, it can make a huge difference when trying to close a sale.


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