Why listening is the secret to selling more

Posted February 9, 2021

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By Cari Murray

Senior Editor at Outreach

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ve likely heard of the book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

It was written by the late Stephen R. Covey, a revered father, grandfather, author and businessman. Having sold 25-plus million copies in 38 languages, he was one of the most widely read authors and thought leaders on the subject of corporate management. The book teaches us that we should prioritize understanding others before being understood ourselves. That entails listening to learn, not just to form our own response.

Listening isn’t just good advice. It’s essential to closing sales.

Discover why listening in sales is so important — and how Outreach’s latest feature (Buyer Sentiment Analysis) can make your team more effective at it.

Listening in sales helps you build a rapport with the prospect

Have you ever met someone that had a knack for making people feel seen and heard?

Chances are, you like talking to this person because they’re a good listener. Conversely, do you know someone who always dispenses unsolicited advice?

Which of these two people are you more likely to go to when you need something? We would hedge our bets on the former because you believe that person would listen. The same is true for sales. To build trust with a prospect, you have to set aside your own agenda and listen with purpose and intention.

Listening in sales helps you unearth buyer needs

When a recommendation is made too soon, it appears as though you just wanted to sell something, anything, regardless of whether the prospect truly needs it. It comes across as the sales rep trying to meet their own needs, not that of the prospect.

Instead, ask a thoughtful, open-ended question to learn more about what the speaker is saying.

Researchers Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman analyzed data describing the behavior of 3,492 participants in a development program designed to help managers become better coaches. They consistently found that the best listeners participated in two-way dialogues, not just “speaker versus hearer” interactions.

Asking a good question shows you not only heard what the prospect said, but understood it well enough to dig deeper.

Listening in sales allows you to customize your solutions to their problems

In today’s world, information is abundant.

Prospects can learn the basics of your product by viewing it on your website, reading critiques of it on industry blogs or reading reviews from actual customers. This makes it essential that you come to the table with something more meaningful than a rundown of your product’s features.

Prospects want to hear that you understand what keeps them up at night. The more you listen to your prospects, the more you’ll start to see commonalities in their problems, based on their job role. You can then more effectively meet them where they are in finding the right solution — not just the one you came to sell.

Help your reps listen (and sell) more effectively with Buyer Sentiment Analysis

At Outreach, we use sequences to help reps plan when and how their next action should occur. We also offer data to help you determine the effectiveness of each step in your sequence.

Let’s say that you send out an email that has a high reply rate. You might assume that the email’s messaging was effective and expect it to return more meetings booked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, as you can see reported in Outreach. What happened?

Reply rate alone can’t tell you whether or not an approach worked. Reply intention has to play a role in that assessment. What if all of the replies were negative? The sentiment behind the replies was the missing piece of the puzzle — until now. At a glance, Buyer Sentiment Analysis allows your team to assess the meaning behind prospect responses. It can show you whether the replies were “positive,” “objections,” “referrals” or “unsubscribes.”

Buyer Sentiment Analysis captures buyer emotions and signals to more accurately measure sales engagement versus activity metrics like reply, click, and open rates.

It also makes your team more effective at listening to prospects and what they are really trying to convey in their replies. When you understand their intentions, you can better serve them.

What better way to become a highly successful sales rep? Discover how Outreach's new Buyer Sentiment functionality can help your team better listen to prospects, leading to more meetings booked. Get your free copy of our ebook, “Outcome Over Output: Why reply sentiment delivers better outcomes than reply rate.”


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