Listening skills 'help sales teams flourish'

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Listening is an underrated skill in sales

Business leaders up and down the UK will be well aware of the importance of having an effective sales team that can drive the growth of their company by bringing in new leads and closing deals, but the skills required to achieve this may be something that is less clear to those running a firm.

New research compiled by YouGov on behalf of sales industry training firm Huthwaite International has shown that while 73 per cent of respondents rate highly the importance of the ability of salespeople to listen to those they are selling to, only 22 per cent felt having an inquisitive nature was equally desirable.

This is interesting due to the fact that without the inclination to ask the necessary questions based upon the responses of one's contact, salespeople can miss important clues and avenues of conversation that could lead to an increased likelihood of closing a deal.

Soft skills are increasingly in demand among staff across all areas of business right now, but in many cases, companies may be failing to factor this in when choosing who to take on in their sales teams.

Too great a focus on bravado and bullish confidence can be a recipe for disaster. It is therefore important that company leaders take heed of the advice of Huthwaite International, which includes placing a focus on the essential skill of listening when interacting with potential clients and future leads.

Chief executive officer of Huthwaite International Tony Hughes told Smallbusiness.co.uk: "Salespeople need to be able to help buyers through the thought process as they investigate what to buy. This is not achieved by asking a list of prescribed questions, it comes from being highly responsive to what the customer is saying.

"Flexible salespeople are able to adapt their solution as the conversation with the customer progresses. To be persuasive, salespeople need to understand the actual needs of the buyer, which ties back again to listening and asking questions."

Mr Hughes added that gone are the days when pushy salespeople could rise to the top, as this type of behaviour is now more likely to turn off potential buyers than draw them into signing a deal.

Overall, the key traits highlighted by the Huthwaite International research for top sales individuals were shown to be excellent knowledge of products and services, as well as being a good listener, enthusiastic and confident.