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How to Be a Memorable Salesperson Part 11: Listen With Empathy

Memorable: enduring, unforgettable, noteworthy, significant, extraordinary, esteemed, important, impressive, remarkable, indelible, interesting, meaningful.

The dictionary offers plenty of synonyms for the word “memorable.” They are all relevant and useful outcomes for a seller.
That’s why we’ve written this 12-part series on how to be a memorable salesperson. Setting yourself apart and stepping into your own significant, extraordinary, remarkable, important place with a buyer is a worthy endeavor.

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How Will Listening With Empathy Help Me Be a Memorable Salesperson?

Graphic Showing Listening IntentlyActive listeners have an advantage. By virtue of their superior listening alone, they are more memorable.

In school and in most sales training courses, we’re taught how to present but not taught to listen. We’re only taught half of communication! Listening is a critical skill that distinguishes a top seller from an average one.

Empowered buyers are demanding to be heard. It takes sharp listening skills to identify their unique needs, to create meaningful and relevant value, and to provide a personalized customer experience.

Few would disagree that there’s a loss when we don’t fully listen to others. You notice it in your own day-to-day conversations. No matter how commonplace it may be, it doesn’t feel good when we know we’ve only been partially heard because others were distracted. For a buyer, being asked to trust a seller who doesn’t listen well is particularly distasteful. Sellers who actively listen have yet another opportunity to differentiate themselves and become memorable since so few do this.

What Can I Do to Become a Better Listener When Selling?

This term, active listening, refers to a higher standard of listening. First, there’s hearing. That’s a passive function, one that requires no effort at all for most. Listening is hearing plus paying attention to take in what’s being said. Active listening goes beyond listening to include paying close attention, focusing to eliminate distractions and devoting mental effort to process what’s being said. Active listening isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally.

When people are actively listening, they respond differently than those who are only partly engaged.

Active listeners:

  • Don’t interrupt.

  • Don’t respond hastily, as soon as an opening becomes available.

  • Don’t play a “one up” game to try and match each point made.

  • Don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Don’t judge what is being said too quickly.

  • Don’t interject with an unsolicited or premature solution.

Instead, active listeners:

  • Probe for clarification, back story, details and feelings.

  • Listen for both content and feeling.

  • Empathize by putting themselves in the speaker’s shoes.

  • Listen for what’s different, not just for what’s familiar.

  • Take what’s being said seriously.

  • Spot their own assumptions or biases about what’s being said.

  • Eliminate distractions while listening so they can focus fully.

  • Hear the whole story before judging or responding.

  • Encourage the speaker with attention and body language.

  • Look at the speaker or, perhaps, take notes on what’s being said.

  • Never seem rushed, bored or impatient.

You can choose any one of these bulleted items and improve your listening without spending a dime. You can built habits in all these areas by paying attention to yourself as a listener. By doing so, you will become more memorable.

How Can I Learn More About Improving My Listening Skills?

Listening, like any skill, requires practice and commitment. You may think there’s no need to focus time and attention on building this skill. But you will be surprised at how much better a listener you can be with just a little help.

One of my favorite books on this topic is Just Listen by Mark Goulston. More broadly, Kody Bateman makes a strong case for listening and associated skills in his book The Power of Human Connection.

If you’d like to learn more about listening habits and identify what type of listener you are, take the ECHO Listening Assessment and the coaching session we offer along with it. Contact us for more information about doing this on your own or with your entire team.  

If you prefer webinar-based learning, be sure to visit the archives of The Sales Experts Channel. Several of the global sales experts who contribute free content here have tackled listening skills for sellers in their presentations.

And don’t forget to work on additional ways you can become more memorable, too.

  • Stick with this series to read more about buyer research and field observations with sellers.

  • Check out this video playlist on the People First PS YouTube Channel with more tips and research with buyers. There are 25 videos there, each one lasting just 3-5 minutes.

  • Read the book that started it all. DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected is packed with ways you can make yourself more memorable to buyers. It was ahead of its time in bringing research with buyers directly to sellers.

Whatever you decide to do, make a commitment to become more memorable. Standing out in a crowded sea of sellers is a surefire strategy for boosting your sales success.

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