Listening and Selling

by Chip Doyle, Guest Author

Chip makes such an important point here, I have to forward his post.

Until you can really listen to what your customer is saying and,

– what they are NOT saying,

– where they’re coming from,

– what their mood is,

– what they are committed to,

you’re going to miss a lot of what they say. Learning to listen with that kind of depth is an art within your skills as a salesperson. Here’s Chip Doyle.

If you accept the precept that the value of a salesperson is measured by their ability to obtain information, then you understand the importance of listening (not just hearing but comprehension and recall) in sales. Yet, recent studies show that adults are terrible listeners. Our listening skills actually decrease after adolescence! I’ve been a big proponent that women often make better salespeople, so it was no surprise (to me) that women were shown statistically to be better listeners.

According to the research conducted, multi-tasking drains our ability to listen by as much as 43%. Truman Capote was purported to have 94% recall of all conversations. If true, I can assure you he would have made an excellent salesman!  As a sales trainer, one of my biggest challenges is getting salespeople to become better listeners. They believe their selling effectiveness is a function of their ability to speak influentially, not listen. Many salespeople have placed listening skills subordinate to influence skills so that they will never become good listeners. So they choose to hone their speaking skills instead. “Chip, just tell me what to say. Wait, let me write that down.” I’ve heard these exact two sentences thousands of times. And then I have to gently ask if their job is to talk or listen.

Talking too much is bad, but when a salesperson attempts to speak influentially, they make it even worse. The buyer or prospect tightens up and resists any points the salesperson is attempting to make. If the prospect was listening before, then the salesperson’s attempts to influence are sure to have a negative impact.

Sandler Rule: Your value as a sales professional is measured by the information you obtain, not by the information you give.

HOW you listen impacts your ability to hear and comprehend. In Scott Hunter’s Unshackled Leadership, he writes about how people listen, even giving each method a title or label. Find the Flaw, I’m Always Right and his personal favorite Get to the Point are just a few examples. I found myself laughing while reading about these different ways to listen because I’m guilty myself. He points out that most people listen with their own agenda, “listening to themselves listen”. Scott has written a good book that really isolates some of the key barriers to good listening.

Improve your sales by genuinely listening. Stop trying to convince – just get to the truth. And if you do have to tell or say something, do it in an unbiased non-influential way (unless you are selling to someone like Truman Capote.)

Good Selling,


Chip Doyle and his associate Hilmon Sorey offer Sandler Sales Training at two locations in the SF Bay Area.

Copyright 2013 Sandler Training Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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