As a sales trainer, you would include product knowledge training, selling skills training and sales process training in your training program. However, have you ever thought of training your sales people to listen? In one of his workshops, Stephen Covey mentions how active listening helped many sales people increase their sales. In fact, the way sales people communicate with their customers is said to play an important role in the selling process (Corner and Drollinger 1999). So, what is active empathetic listening?
Active empathetic listening involves listening with empathy by focusing on the intended meaning conveyed by the other person. Listeners need to focus on what the opposite person actually is saying by putting aside their own personal opinions/thoughts. This is not as easy as it may seem. Therapeutic counselors use empathetic listening so that they understand what their clients say without being swayed by their individual opinions or feelings. Sales people can also adopt a similar approach. This helps them better understand their customers and determine their needs, which in turn will enable them to provide a product that best fits their requirement.
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As a part of the sales training program, you can include scenario-based eLearning modules that emphasize the relevance of empathetic listening in building customer relations and thereby increasing sales. Simulation of actual sales situations and customer interactions in the form of animations or videos can be used to demonstrate the importance of active empathetic listening. Such activities are also helpful to sensitize sales people to non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, body language, tone and so on. As a part of the activity, you could give a particular scenario to the sales person for evaluation. On viewing the scenario, a sales person needs to identify the problem and choose a best practice to be followed or the best way to respond to the given situation. This is a better way to reinforce learning than a simple do’s and don’ts checklist.
Active empathetic listening (AEL) is very important skill for a sales professional and can be considered as one of the best practices of selling. Including it as a part of the sale curriculum is very important if you want your sales team to comprehend your customers and understand the subtle messages they may be communicating.
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