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sales strategies

Increase Your Listening Intelligence and Increase Your Sales

Increase Your Sales With Listening Intelligence
Your Listening Intelligence

We’ve talked about how important listening is in sales, and you know I like to study Neuroscience in sales – more specifically behavioral neuroscience and how the brain affects buying behavior.

Today we are going to put the two together as we look about the four listening styles or listening preferences to see

How to increase your listening intelligence.

You probably already know that two people can listen to the same thing and hear two different things. Just like you have your own personal communication style, you also have your own listening style – you’re listening filters. What you focus on and what you filter out during the sales conversation with a prospect.

How well you are able to pay attention to this information is called your listening intelligence.

Just like your communication style or your negotiation style is an unconscious decision, meaning you do it automatically, your listening style is the same. You do it without even realizing what you are doing.

You know you can improve your communication and negotiation styles by bringing them into your conscious mind and taking time to learn about them. You can improve your listening skills the same way. Train your brain to work in a way that it is not used to and using this awareness of your behavior to get the new results from yourself that you want.

I have not created a quiz to help determine your listening style, but you can take the quizzes to learn your communication style and your negotiation style by clicking here. If I do add a What’s Your Listening Style Quiz, you will be able to find it in the self-assessment quiz area.

What if you learned to listen to the kind of questions the buyer asked, and you changed your sales conversation from talking about the big picture results to how you can support the prospect by solving a problem and making them a “hero”?

Bringing the message to them on a more relatable level. Same message, better result.

Just like we as salespeople “filter” incoming audio information, so do our prospects … and our clients.

If you were able to figure out your prospects’ filters, by listening to the questions and answers from them, what do you think might happen to the number of sales you close?

We go into our sales meetings with an agenda, the information we plan to relay to our prospect. Sometimes this information may be what you think is important, and you will share it in the way you would want to hear it. 

What if you delivered the same information, but in a way that your prospect would prefer to hear it? Yes, it takes a bit of tweaking on your part, for every different prospect. That is what your sales conversation is all about.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Stephen R. Covey

Having an outline of talking points (your systematic process), using the information you learn from your prospect and giving them a customized presentation design just for them – to help them get the results they want in a way that makes sense to them.

This is how you can give the same sales presentation with the same touch points to every prospect, every time, without becoming boring, mundane and rote. Doesn’t that make sense to you?

That is why I look forward to every sales conversation. Because while being the same – they are all different. Based on the personality, background, communication style, and listening style of each one of your unique prospects!

That was a mouthful! 

Let’s see what these listening preferences or filters are.

As you read this, I’d like you to focus on ways you can tweak the way you might present to each listening style so you can better communicate with them, and understand what they are really saying to you. 

I’m going to share with you not only what words or messages each style is likely to pay attention to, but also what each style is likely to miss, and how to recognize each type.

The last listening style is a little different, and it explains my style, although I try to only use this around my friends from the Northeast, because many Southerners find this style rude.

The first style is connective listening.

This type of listener focuses on how the information you are giving them will support others, rather than the effect of what you were saying we’ll have on them. Because of this “relational” perspective, you may find this type of person focusing more on trying to connect with you rather than what you were saying, missing some of the facts and details. 

They are socially intuitive and may pick up on some small details and how it will help or harm others.

Preference number two is reflective listening.

These people focus on what’s in it for them. Have you ever heard of WIFT, (What’s In It For Them), missing the overall big picture. You’ve met this prospect, I’m sure. 

Where it almost feels they aren’t even paying attention to you. But it’s actually quite the opposite. They are taking your information and internally processing it to decide if what you were saying will work for them or not.

Listening preference number three is analytical listening. 

This style focuses on facts and measurable data – very precise – no gray areas allowed. 

They are not interested in opinions or feelings, focusing on results and facts. They want concrete facts and may appear as emotionally disconnected.

The fourth listening preference style is conceptual listening. 

These people are creatives that like to brainstorm ideas and like to think outside of the box, offering suggestions that others may not have considered. While considering all the options, it can be challenging to get them to focus and consider one solution. They are also not very good at listening to details. They filter in concepts and possibilities, and filter out details.

And the fifth listening perference style is called the “Cooperative Overlapper”.

These are people that have a tendency to jump in before the other person is done, which in many circles can be perceived as rude or dismissive – BUT, according to Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University Professor of Linguistics, cooperative overlapping occurs when the listener starts talking along with the speaker. This is not to cut the speaker off, but to validate or show that they are engaged in what the first speaker is saying.

Other names for this style of listening are “enthusiastic listenership” or “participatory listenership”.

This actually makes perfect sense to me, being originally from the New Jersey/New York area.

However, living in the South, my style, instead of being appreciated by the speaker often has the opposite effect. I’ve learned the hard way that my being an enthusiastic listener can fluster the speaker, disrupt the flow of conversation, and may even be viewed as a sign of disrespect. Talk about being misunderstood!

I’ve had to learn to tone down my enthusiastic participation to simple head nods.

My point is, that when you learn to recognize and understand the different conversation and listening styles due to ethnicity, culture or personality, you will. have more control over how you are coming across to others.

Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you understand exactly which listening style your prospect is using. 

All of these are all great questions, but you don’t want to use them all in one sitting. Use them situationally depending on the conversation. 

Do you have a pen and paper ready?

• Could you tell me more about that?

• I’ve noticed that … Then summarize back a feature of their listening style. For example: I’ve noticed that you like facts or that you care a lot about other people…thereby confirming their listening preference and how they want you to present to them.

• What I’m hearing is …?

• Let me make sure I understand…

• Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly …

• Let’s make sure we’re on the same page …

With the last 4 questions, you are summarizing back to them what you think they told you. This will show your prospects that you understand them and what their desires are.  Here is your chance to get back on track before you give them a proposal.

When you increase your listening intelligence, you’ll be better able to understand what you pick up on in a conversation, as well as what you tend to miss or even shut out.

Use your listening intelligence to recognize the listening preference of your prospects. Then adapt your style to their listening preference, so that you can keep your prospect engaged in the conversation. And give them what they need to make a decision to work with you.

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Why (and How) to use a Daily Sales Planner

Why you should use a daily sales planner

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Even though I have a great sales CRM platform available to me, I still like putting a pen to a pad (or planner) on the first day of every month. Writing down my monthly sales goals, including my monthly sales target, my weekly sales target, the times I will schedule the necessary appointments each day, and the “top prospects” of the month.

By defining my sales objectives and creating those weekly and monthly sales targets on the first day of every month, I am setting myself up for a successful month.

Once you decide on what your sales targets are, you will be able to decide the steps and strategy to get there.

I also plan in a time at the end of each week to assess how the week went. Did you hit your sales target for the week?  

What worked in helping you reach that target, or …

What went wrong and how can you correct it to get back on track. So that you can quickly identify the gaps you need to fill to reach your target.

This weekly planning and accountability using a daily sales planner helps you to know exactly how much money you will be putting into your bank account every pay period.

Within my main sales target, I look at the breakdown of how much I need to sell of a certain product or service.

Your sales mix.  Widget A and Widget B.  Maybe your commission or bonus is higher on Widget B. You want to make sure you are keeping track of that breakdown as well to insure you can maximize your income.

I break that down even further. Not into a dollar amount I need to sell, but into how many actual widgets I need to sell to reach my sales goals.  For example, would you rather have to sell $50,000 or 10 widgets?

The more attainable your goal feels to you, the more likely you are to achieve it!

Your personal objectives and goals should be clear and measurable. With very specific numbers, and specific dates that you will reach those goals by.  For example, I will sell 13 widgets a week.

Once you have that target in place, work backwards to create the exact strategy for how you will reach that goal.

How many widgets do you sell to each customer? (your average sale amount).

How many customers do you close on average?  One in two (50% close ratio), a two in three (67% close ration), one in three (a 33% close ratio).

From here you can determine how many sales appointments you will need to create the sales opportunities you need.

And, in simple form, your monthly and daily sales plan is created.  

First ,state your sales objectives. Then decide your strategic direction on how you will reach your objective, with daily and weekly monitoring of your actions and results.

When you have a great daily sales planner to help you, it’s magic.  

A great daily sales planner will help you put the systems in place and help you monitor your progress, but you have to do the work . The magic is you. And the time you spend at the end of every day, week, or month to strategically plan out what you need to do to hit your sales goals.  

A great sales planner just helps to make it your life easier by giving you a place to refer back to to hold yourself accountable so that you can quickly correct your course instead of missing your targets.

I am a big believer in the power of the written word, or in this case, plan.

Take time at the end of each week to schedule in the time for the next week. Time you will need to prospect, run appointments, and process agreements.

If you don’t plan in time for each of those three activities, one or more of them won’t get done.  The more planned-out your week is, the more urgency you will feel in the need to stay on track to complete your important sales activities.

I like to “batch” activities throughout the day. It’s based on how many activities I need to include. I also like to work the type of activity according to what my energy levels are during certain times of the day, scheduling the least demanding activities during my lowest energy level times (like right after lunch).

What would your perfect “sales day” look like,

and what would you include so that you could have repeatable success every day?

Mine would include 3 appointments a day, with 2 ½ hours in between appointments. That way I will have enough time with each prospect without either of us feeling rushed.

So, let’s block out appointment time of 10, 1 and 3:30.  If I know an appointment needs more time before I meet with them, I will allow two appointment slots with them.  Before you do that, make sure that the prospect is worth two appointment slots.   

Decide on your agenda for each meeting and the expected action you want your prospect to take at the end of the meeting.

I also know that I need about two hours of prospecting time a day. One hour to reach out to new prospects. Another hour to follow up with prospects that have not bought from me yet.  Your schedule may be a little different, but probably similar.  

I like to do my prospecting first thing in the morning. 9 to 10 am, and then again later in the afternoon at 4 or 5 pm. I’m a night person, and my energy levels are just getting started at 5.  I have found that this is also the time when more people will respond to me faster.

By putting this prospecting time in my daily sales planner, it is like setting another appointment. But this one is with myself, to do the things I know are important to consistently reach my weekly and monthly sales targets.

When you “break” these appointments with yourself, you end up losing and trying to play catch-up. Not what you want to do be doing at the end of the month.

Once you have the main outline in place, you can fill in the who and why. 

Having an organized strategy and goals with a plan on how to reach your goals will make it easier to hold yourself accountable and stick to the daily plan.

You should have a 7- day, and a 30-day sales plan. A good sales planner should have enough room to keep track of up to 90 days at a time.

How and when should you create these sales plans? 

The good news is, that with a hard-copy daily sales planner in front of you, it’s easy.  Once you make it a habit to keep up with this planning, it will become a second nature to you, just like in the Unconscious Doer Stage Four of the Sales Transformation Road-map System.

For the 30-day sales plan, I set it on the first day of each month.

In this plan, I have my monthly and weekly sales target numbers. I include my top 10 target prospects for the month, and 3 specific actions to take every day to get the results I want.

List the specific sales you plan on closing during the month. Then write down the things you need to do to close those sales and process the business.

I find that my monthly top 10 clients will account for 75% of my monthly goal. Secondary clients – the new clients that are just entering your sales pipeline, will fill in the rest.

For the 7-day, or weekly, sales plan, you want to have your plan in place for the next week before you end your week on Friday. 

It is incredibly motivating to have a plan, and appointments, in place for the next week. It makes you actually look forward to going to work on a Monday morning!

Transfer the things you didn’t complete last week to the next week – only if it is something that will lead to a sale.

And I review my day before I leave, every day.  I update the following day with what I need to do and when. Then I close the planner for the night.  

When you start the next day, open the planner, and your sales CRM program, and dig in.

Ultimately, your discipline and your decision to follow your sales plan is your key to success.

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How to Be Successful in Sales in 2021

Going into a new year and being successful in sales in 2021 means re-evaluating our sales from last year- what worked this year, what didn’t, and put a plan in place for 2021.

When you are evaluating your sales and your actions, ask yourself these two questions:

1. did this action bring in results this year? and 

2. if not, then did you really give it a fair chance and put an effort into making it work or did you just make it a haphazard effort?

We all love the things that give us immediate results, but it’s not always possible. Especially this year, when we have had to be a little more creative in our selling. 

We’ve had to be a bit more strategic and put plans in place to win.

Creating and sticking to a daily schedule has been helpful for keeping my mind focused on selling.

Mornings are for phone calls and presentations and afternoons are for prospecting and reaching out to people that I haven’t spoken to before. And I end the day speaking again with people I already know. 

I prefer the mornings, because they know the people and it’s easier.

Afternoons are harder and may not bring immediate results, but I am planting seeds for future business. I end the day on a high note, with people I know again, who are closer to doing business with me or to buying this month. 

Your schedule may look different, but starting and ending the day positively is good for your psyche. Do what feels comfortable for you — just do it and stick to it.

Being successful in sales in 2021 means being regimented — having a plan and sticking with it, especially if you are working remotely and don’t have the structure you might get by working in an office.

I’ve been doing big sales prospecting email campaigns,

both to my existing and to new clients, and retargeting (or calling) only those people that open my email. 

When I can see that someone has opened an email two, three or even four times, that person gets a call. 

Use the available technology through your CRM, like Salesforce, to help you see when your emails are getting open and reach out to those engaged people.

It’s kind of like pre-qualifying your prospects through your messaging before you even meet them.

Tedious, yes, but much better than sending out letters and postcard mailers and not being able to tell who’s actually paying attention to you. 

Even if your company’s marketing department sent out emails, send your own.

Make them look different from what your company is sending. Try and create a “feeling” with your emails that will make your prospects want to read more from you and even “meet” you. Probably through a phone conversation or a virtual call.

I’ve also had to do extra things, because even now not everyone uses email!  Really!!!

So when I can’t email them, instead of just dropping that proposal into snail mail, (it’s called snail mail for a reason, trust me), I will drop it off at their front door, if they are local, or overnight it.  Then we can talk about it on the phone and close the deal.

I batch my days where I will spend the morning once or twice a week delivering three or four proposals. It’s not the best situation, but waiting for that mail to get delivered could take a week or even more. This way I know they have gotten it.

This also shows my prospect that they are worth the drive, and it creates an urgency that just saying “I’ll put it in the mail for you” does not.

I know you’ve all heard of work smarter, not harder. And I am in absolute agreement of that statement. But to me, it doesn’t mean work smarter – work less. It means work smarter so you have the time to do more!

Like doing the things to build your future business that you might not see immediate results from (remember that ongoing tedious email campaign?)

Especially if you are a new-ish person in sales.

There are so many companies looking for salespeople.

I see a lot of people getting their insurance licenses, and people getting their realtor licenses, and going into sales. 

You will get tons of product and service training, I promise you that. But not much direction on what to do with that training.

If you are new-ish in sales, get the free sales transformation roadmap right here. See how you can go from a newish salesperson to a top sales performer.

Welcome, and congratulations on your new career!

And for those of you that have persevered and continued selling this year, congratulations to you for everything you’ve done to stay relevant and successful, and adapting sometimes weekly to get the job done.

Some of you may know that I started my sales career in New York City. 

You’ve heard the Frank Sinatra song New York, New York—“If I can make it there, I’m going to make it anywhere”.

2020 – if I can make it this year, I’m going to make it any year. 

That song has become the theme song for many of us in 2020.

Think about it, whether you are new-ish or a seasoned, top-performing salesperson, if we can get through this and come out on top – or at least not too bruised, the rest should be easy, right?

Which leads me right back to the beginning, … and we come full circle.

To summarize, how to be successful in sales moving forward into 2021:

✅. Batch your time into similar tasks that you need to do. Start and end your day on a high note.

✅. Re-evaluate, keep doing the seed planting in December and January, and watch what grows.

Embrace technology like email and web conferencing to connect and stay connected – be creative if your client doesn’t have the capability printing out a proposal by personally dropping it off at their location if they’re local or overnighting it if they’re not so, that you can shorten the sales process time. Then review the proposal, answer questions, and close the sale over the phone. (There’s another thing I NEVER thought I would say!)

✅. Encourage more referrals – without even asking. Sometimes just sending a holiday card or an email can “remind” someone how wonderful you are.

✅. Take the extra time you have at home and invest in improving yourself (notice I didn’t just say sales – but taking time for personal mindset or a new home fitness program in 2021 is imperative).  

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