people-apple-iphone-writingAs sales managers, you may be constantly looking for new ways to improve your team of salespeople or wholesale distributors. But, if you’re only focusing on improving their closing strategies or negotiation techniques, you are forgetting about the most important tool in sales: listening. Here’s why listening is so vital in this field:

Shows interest and respect.

Obviously, listening to a client will show him you are interested in what he has to say, and respect every word coming out of his mouth. When you interrupt or speak over a client, you give off an arrogant, disrespectful vibe, so it is always better to listen to make a strong first impression.

Tailor your response.

While you slow down and listen, you have time to process what your client is saying and tailor a response to his needs or concerns. Salespeople who don’t actively listen don’t have the advantage of tailoring a response. Instead, they stick to the script they came in with, which may or may not be relevant to the client they are speaking with.

Builds relationships.

One of the most basic human needs is to feel understood by others, but when someone is not listening to you, it’s hard to satisfy this need. Show your clients you are actively listening so they can feel a connection with you, which is the first step to building a strong, successful relationship.

Gives you a chance to read cues.

Salespeople who are busy thinking of the next thing to say instead of listening to a client when he speaks do not pick up on nonverbal cues. When you ask a client what his budget is, does the client begin to fidget, becoming uncomfortable with the prices of your product? After you wrap up the pitch, is the client crossing his arms across his chest while he speaks, completely shut off? If you’re not pausing your own internal thoughts to listen to your client, these nonverbal cues may go unnoticed. It’s important that you pay attention to nonverbal cues to determine whether what the client is saying is reflective of how he is truly feeling or if he is hiding something.

Makes you appear more competent.

If a client tells you to send a proposal to a senior executive on his team, but you aren’t listening and send it to him instead, this makes you come off as incompetent. Or, if a client tells you he will be out of the office for a week, but you continue to call and leave follow up voicemails while he is gone, it will be obvious you weren’t paying attention. It’s important to listen closely to little things the client has to say so you can follow his directions and come off as a salesperson who pays close attention to detail. Otherwise, the client will be under the impression you are only interested in the sale and not in the relationship.

What do you think? Is listening the most valuable tool in sales? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!