Selling Skills: Communication Skill, Listening Skill, Trust Building Skill01/09/2020
Sales skills training builds a sustainable competitive advantage because it differentiates your team in an increasingly commoditized market.
The best sales teams are a lot like great schools: They care about results, but the way they achieve them is by being relentless about developing the inside sales skills of their reps. In fact, the best sales teams are most often led by someone who is more like a sales coach than a sales manager. This dedication to developing inside sales skills ultimately creates a sales team that not only hits its short-term goals, but instills a culture of learning and self-improvement in order to achieve its long-term goals as well.
On the phone, the tone of voice, volume and pace of a sales rep’s speech are surprisingly important sales skills. In sales, how you say things to a prospect matters more than what you say. According to Sandler Sales Training, only 7% of communication relies on the content of what you say, whereas 38% of communication is about other attributes of communication such as tonality, etc. As you may have heard before, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Reps should try to subtly mirror a prospect’s tone of voice and style of talking – if a prospect is more formal and polite, speak similarly; if they’re more informal and joke around, do the same. This helps prospects feel familiar with you, and relate to you more easily to create rapport. Reps also need to speak clearly, not too quietly, and not in a monotone. You need to let your emotion and personality shine through, so that the person on the phone knows you’re a human, and is interested in talking to you.
Every great salesperson knows that listening is the most important of all sales skills. Most people think it’s the smooth talkers who make the best salespeople, but in reality it’s those who have mastered listening and identifying people’s true motivations who are most successful. Listening isn’t just something you should do when your sales manager is screaming at you; it’s also what will help you become the top salesperson at your company.
Why is listening so important in sales? There are several reasons. The first is that most people want someone to listen to them. In today’s fast-paced world, however, few of us get someone’s undivided attention for very long. The second reason listening is so important in sales is that since there are so few good listeners these days, those who are will stand out in the customer’s mind.
Trust Building Skill
Selling is a people-oriented business requiring a customer-focused sales approach. Sales are made in the dialogue, person-to-person. The conversation may be face-to-face or over the phone, but the very essence of a successful outcome is based on the ability of the seller to build trust in client relationships.
This means that salespeople must be at their very best, bringing value to the table and to their customers. If instead, they just push products, they sacrifice goodwill and trust. Their sales success is likely to be short-lived, not the basis of a long and mutually productive relationship.
Building Trust with Your Customers
Building and maintaining trust across the full lifespan of a customer relationship takes attention and focus in the following areas:
- Prepare with the customer in mind.
- Ask great questions not bad ones during sales conversations.
- Create value proactively, not reactively.
- Be honest about what you can and can’t do.
- Make your value explicit, not implicit.
- Always maintain a collaborative tone, even when you don’t see eye to eye
Importance of Rebuilding Trust
It can be a difficult task to build trust and credibility with prospects and customers. It is even harder when attempting to rebuild trust after it has been damaged by scandal or misstep. It doesn’t matter which company or sector is making headlines for bad decisions, unethical or illegal practices, or individuals who displayed bad behavior. There will always be some event that triggers a crisis in trust.
During difficult periods, especially when daily headlines keep bad news front and center, you may find yourself spending more time explaining, defending, and deflecting. Most people think of “fight-or-flight” reactions when faced with stressful situations. These natural reactions protected your ancestors back in the day, when conflict meant life or death, but all are ineffective for regaining the trust, respect, and confidence of customers, and in turn, growing sales.
So, what does work? If executed with authenticity, patience, and skill, the following four-step process is straightforward and effective in rebuilding trust with clients and customers:
- Empathize: Expressing empathy will help you to coax out and reduce negative emotions.
- Question: Open-ended questions and effective listening take courage and a strong stomach when trying to rebuild fractured trust. The payoff: the customer is allowed to vent and feels heard, while you show depth of caring and a greater understanding of the customer’s perspective on the issue.
- Position: If you’re like most competitive salespeople, your first reaction when presented with customer anger may be to explain and defend. While accurate, your comments will not be persuasive and may sound defensive, triggering in customers their own fight, flight, or freeze reactions. Instead, maintain a customer-focused selling approach: after empathizing and questioning, your solutions or ideas should be linked to what you learned from the customer’s responses to your questions.
- Elicit Feedback: Only by checking and using open-ended questions can you elicit sufficient feedback to know if the proposed ideas hit or missed their marks.