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5 Ways to Sharpen Your Listening and Language Skills
Blog / Sales Training / Aug 31, 2018 / Posted by Janice Mars / 749 

5 Ways to Sharpen Your Listening and Language Skills

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Build a Buyer’s Trust by Sharpening Your Listening and Language Skills

Listening and language skills are vital for building a buyer’s trust. As a sales professional, delivering the right messages to buyers is crucial to getting your foot in the door and then building their trust. Many times, successfully approaching and engaging buyers comes down to communication. But we must also remember that communication is a two-way street. Salespeople must get to know potential buyers better than they know themselves in order to converse, collaborate and ultimately deliver solutions that solve a priority business goal – and it all starts with listening.

Here are five key tips to help you sharpen your listening and language skills.

1. Beware of Selling by Keywords

Salespeople who pitch their products and services and then look for the problem it could solve tend to listen for keywords. When they hear those keywords, they jump all over them without truly understanding the customer’s actual needs. That is selling by keywords, and it’s not effective.

Take the time to understand executives’ priority business outcomes first. Listen intently and stay insanely curious so you can extract and confirm their two- to three-year plan, keeping in mind that executives plan farther out than mid-level managers. Only then can you collaborate with them on how your products and services can help them achieve their business goals.

2. Have the Right Conversations

To reach and engage the buyer, particularly executives, you must look through their lens and be able to have a conversation that provokes how they see their business both today and in the future. You don’t have to be 100% right with your suggestions, and they may have already come up with similar ideas. But, the fact that you are focused on making them and their organization more successful builds tremendous credibility. Having the ability to talk to them conversationally, with confidence, doesn’t hurt either.

3. Avoid Using Filler Words

Filler words, phrases or sounds mark a pause or hesitation in speech. Some of the common ones are um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, right, and you know. They often come about when you are thinking on the fly and give others the impression that you are unprepared or uncomfortable. If you hem and haw and use filler words, it can diminish your credibility in the executive’s eyes. The solution? Prepare like crazy.

4. Prepare by Role Playing

Once you gather knowledge about the client’s role, business, industry, goals, and priorities, take the time to prepare by rehearsing and role-playing. Rehearsing in your head always sounds great. But you will definitely see a huge difference when you say it out loud. When preparing for a key meeting with a key executive stakeholder, you should always role play and say everything out loud rather than rehearse it in your head. This help to reduce or remove your use of filler words. Take that one step further and do some role-playing with your manager or a peer, and they will provide the feedback you need to ensure a better outcome.

5. Give Yourself a Break

Even when you prepare well for meetings or presentations, the content may still not roll off the tongue comfortably so it comes off as unnatural. That may be because you’re comfortable talking about your products, services or technology, but not as comfortable talking about the specific business trends and challenges in the executive’s language.
Give yourself a bit of a break and accept the fact that it takes time to learn new things. In the meantime, having discussions outside your typical wheelhouse may be uncomfortable. This will pass as you acquire more knowledge and understanding. On the bright side, executives welcome and appreciate the effort.

It’s About Them, Not You!

Sometimes you only get one chance to make an impact with a potential client, especially that essential first meeting with higher level executives. If you focus on understanding you’re their business and consistently provide value to them, then rest assured, you will get more comfortable with the conversation. That’s where honing your listening and speaking skills will help you. Then, you can consistently bring your advantages to the table and make good use of everyone’s time – which increases your credibility.

    About Author

    Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and is focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams.

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