By Allison O'Brien
When choosing a career, it is surprising to hear that the majority of those who end up in sales admit that they never intended to follow that path. Of those that do, only 29% admit receiving any formal sales training, leaving it difficult to navigate their way to success. Consequently, less than 50% meet their goals. Given those statistics, it makes sense that the average tenure of an SDR, (Sales Development Representative), is only 1.5 years, with just 8% remaining in the role for more than three years. To make matters worse, 14% of SDRs voluntarily turnover annually, costing companies millions of dollars per year. Shockingly, the average cost to replace an employee can be three to four times higher than the position’s salary itself. And that doesn’t even account for lost sales during the hiring and onboarding process.
To counter the excessive cost of repeatedly replacing individuals on the sales force, data shows that a company can improve success rates by as much as 29% with effective sales coaching. In fact, research reveals that sales training reaps a staggering 353% ROI for the average company. That’s a $4.53 return on every $1 spent. Companies that provide decent sales coaching increased revenue 95% more than companies that do not provide this kind of training.
With 69% of buyers saying that they wish sales reps would listen to them and only 13% of customers believing that sales reps truly understand their needs, it is essential to add listening as a primary piece of missing sales training. Today’s progressive sales managers understand this disconnect and are including a training called "Listening Intelligence.” This training changes the sales approach by using science to identify their buyer’s listening preferences and tuning into the subtle cues provided in the language they use and the types of questions they ask.
The Listening Intelligence work is based on research that has identified four main listening types or habits. Our style of listening is a habit, rather than a hard-wired trait. Just like individuals express themselves in different ways, they also have unique ways of listening and processing information.
Teaching your teams to understand the four habits can provide them a significant 'leg up' in connecting with prospects and engaging in a smooth and successful sales process. While everyone uses all four types of listening to varying degrees, most people tend to rely on a preferred or “dominant” style.
People with a high preference for Connective Listening listen to how information will affect others. They are primarily concerned with how well your product or service will benefit their fellow employees, their clients, or other constituents they have a personal investment in. By contrast, highly Reflective Listeners will filter communication mainly through their own interests and purposes. They want to know what this purchase will mean for them, and will tend to carefully consider information against their own knowledge and experience.
Highly Analytical Listeners, listen for detailed facts and quantifiable data. They make decisions based on accurate, sourced information, and will ask for metrics to support their decision-making process.
Conceptual Listeners, tend to focus on 'big picture' ideas and possibilities. They are apt to get excited about how your product can help shape their organization's future and will ideate about and explore any unique and far-reaching qualities your product brings to the table.
One of the best ways to gain insight into the listening habits of others is by asking open-ended questions, like:
Connective listeners will respond to questions by sharing concerns or asking about the impact the product or service might have on others; will it be an easy transition for the team, how much more work will it put on employees, will they have the support they need, etc. They will use words like we, they and our.
Reflective listeners will seek personal relevance more than concerning themselves with how your product or service will affect others. They often use “I” and statements or phrases like "in my opinion," "I used to" or "in my experience."
Analytical listeners will respond by referencing data, sources, and metrics while seeking more fact-based information. They may use short or choppy sentences like: “prove it”, “what’s your source?” or “where’s the data?”
Conceptual listeners may offer new suggestions, ideas or additional insights as you are presenting, and ask for a broader application than what is being discussed at the moment. They may say something like: “have you ever considered”, “you know what else you could use this for” or “this reminds me of…”
Having a firm grasp of your prospect or lead's listening style can give you insights on how best to share important information leading them toward next steps in the sales process. If you're not speaking their listening language, both parties may miss the fact that what you have to offer is actually a great match for their current or future goals.
Since listening is half the communication equation, using the ECHO Listening Profile™, the first and only scientifically validated cognitive-based listening assessment, as a foundational component in your sales training program, ensures that your teams have a cutting-edge understanding of customer communications. The confidence this gives them will help them reach their goals and maintain long tenures as successful contributors. Listening Intelligence may just be the missing link in your sales training to increase employee retention and drive revenue.
For more information about integrating Listening Intelligence into your current sales training, please contact us.