Listening is one of the most important sales skills. When you practice active listening, you can better understand your prospects’ challenges and present the best possible solutions. Listening also allows you to build rapport. You can show that you’re truly interested in helping the other person, rather than making a sale.

Being a good listener doesn’t just mean giving someone your full attention or eliminating distractions, though. Nicole Lowenbraum, a content developer at Duarte, says you must consider what the prospect wants from you and then give them what they’re seeking. She says that in the workplace, speakers either want you to:

• Immerse
• Discern
• Advance
• Support

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share Lowenbraun’s tips on how you can deliver on each one of these goals.

1. Listen to immerse. Sometimes, prospects or clients simply need you to hear their message. They don’t expect any action or deliverable. In these situations, Lowenbraun recommends taking notes or mentally cataloguing the information you receive. It may also be helpful to ask clarifying questions or confirm what you heard. But overall, she says your job is to be a content sponge.

2. Listen to discern. You can listen with more empathy by also helping the other person figure something out. If they say, “I’m not sure if I’m going in the right direction with this” or “I need a different viewpoint,” consider that your cue to chime in with some help. Lowenbraun says this might mean uncovering the benefits or drawbacks of a situation or exploring options they may not have previously considered.

3. Listen to advance. Your client or prospect may need help moving things forward. They may be in the middle of an especially busy time at work or their calendar may be more booked than usual. Being a good listener in this case requires listening in a way that can move people, projects and processes to the next step, Lowenbraun says.

4. Listen to support. Being a good support listener means mirroring the other person’s feelings, whether they’re having a terrible day, or they just had a big win. Lowenbraun advises responding with words or actions that validate their feelings. Commiserate with the other person or celebrate with them.

To listen with empathy, think about what your prospect or client needs from you. When you determine whether they need you to immerse, discern, advance or support, you can achieve a better outcome for everyone.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Nicole Lowenbraun is a senior content developer and executive speaker and coach at Duarte, a communication agency and training firm.