The Benefits of Listening

Posted By: Bobby High TAA News & Updates, XCEL,

The Benefits of Listening

“You can open your ears or your mouth, but not both at the same time” (Mattson, 68).

The CEO of Sandler Systems, David Mattson, lays out forty-nine business development principles and how to apply them in his bestselling book, The Sandler Rules.  Rule number fourteen states, “a prospect that is listening is no prospect at all.”  In the sales world this translates as the more you talk, the less you know about the prospect. If you know less then they will feel less heard by you, often leading to a ruined opportunity from the start.   

It's not hard to relate: imagine walking into a furniture store to shop for a sofa.  The instant you walk into the store the hopeful attendant runs up to you as fast as they can and quickly leads you to the first set of dining equipment. The attendant immediately begins talking about how great it will look in your home, and you are hardly able to get a word in edgewise.  They don’t know about your home and have fatally assumed you are looking for dining equipment when you are looking for a sofa! Alternately, the attendant should have greeted you with the intention of learning about your needs first. They should greet you and courteously approach you asking what has brought you into the store. Once you let them know you are looking at sofas, they would perhaps ask you about the dynamics of your home, and what type, size, color, feel, price range you are looking for.

In the sales world there is a principle called the seventy/thirty rule. Notice in the sofa example the connection between listening and asking good questions- or lack thereof. The prospect should be talking seventy percent of the time and the salesperson should be talking thirty percent of the time.  Mattson suggests the most effective way to achieve this is to ask thought provoking questions and listen to the response but really listen to the response. A salesperson can often ask a thought-provoking question but forget to listen. This is because they are thinking of what they are going to say as the other person is talking instead of listening with the intention of understanding what the customer is trying to convey.  A salesperson or customer service agent should focus on what the prospect is saying and use the information to gain more insight by asking another thought-provoking question. This way, the prospect feels heard and the salesperson has the best information to guide the prospect towards the best product to fit their needs. 

This sales principle is highly effective in closing a deal, but it can be beneficial beyond work. One of the greatest aspects of this sales principle is its applicability to personal relationships. We all wish we were heard more by our spouse, parents, grown children, friends, or coworkers.  However, when we stop and think about it, we often do not apply the seventy/thirty principle to our loved ones. Give yourself a challenge to listen more and talk less in work and at home, and watch the relationships grow and you gain more understanding. In his closing remarks, Mattson states, “You can lose a sale by talking too much, but you will never lose a sale by listening to much.” We certainly don’t approach our loved ones as prospects, but imagine how much we could learn from those close to us if we settle our minds, ask thought provoking questions, and listen. The benefits of listening can infiltrate both our working and home lives if we remember to focus on understanding versus replying.

The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them.  David Mattson.