How Being A Better Listener Will Make You A Better Sales Rep

Believe it or not, Vanilla Ice had some pretty good selling advice in “Ice Ice Baby.”

The first line of this 1989 hit— “Stop, collaborate and listen”—can be regarded as a valuable tidbit for salespeople, especially those who find themselves doing more talking than listening on calls. In a recent article from Top Sales World, Mark Hunter urges salespeople to just “shut up and sell!” It’s typical for salespeople to want to jump right to their pitch on discovery calls and demos, instead of taking the time to understand a customer’s problems and pain points.

But it’s easier said than done. Just trying to “listen better” will probably work a few times; but the following solid, quantifiable tips for sales calls will become integral aspects of your selling process in no time.

Hunter first suggests that salespeople should try asking shorter questions. Long questions usually elicit short responses, while short questions like “Why?” or “Could you elaborate?” prompt longer responses from customers. Long-winded questions can confuse listeners, because they don’t know what kind of response you’re looking for. Stopping to listen to what your prospects have to say will help to identify their problems—and find a solution—faster.

Another mistake Hunter addresses is talking too much without letting your prospect get a word in. Try limiting yourself to only speaking 20 seconds without asking a question. While this takes some preparation and practice, it’s a method that will help you get the most out of your discovery calls and demos. You are forcing yourself to understand the needs of your prospect, which will be more beneficial for you both in the long run.

A final tip is to have an abundance of questions on hand for your calls. Hunter’s rule of thumb is to be prepared to ask two questions per minute, so for a 20 minute conversation, you should have 40 questions ready. It is unlikely that you’ll use them all, but the process of cultivating these questions will get you thinking about your prospects’ needs and pain points. Bonus points if you collaborate with your sales team to curate the most useful and successful questions.

Quantifying such small details of your sales calls may seem tedious, but in the long run it will greatly improve the quality of your interactions with customers. Stop to ask shorter questions, collaborate with your team to come up with these questions, and listen to your prospects’ problems. It will make a world of a difference when you can better understand your customers’ needs, your sales cycle is shortened, and revenue increases.

Who would’ve ever thought Vanilla Ice could help make you a better sales rep?