At their core, all sales hinge on the ability to communicate one’s ideas. That’s what makes active listening so important to a successful cold calling strategy; by listening and responding to prospects in a way that establishes mutual understanding, potential customers can be certain a rep is tuned in to their wants and needs.
Active listening has a number of benefits, including:
- Building good rapport
- Establishing trust between your company and the prospect
- Reduces misunderstandings and mistakes
- Helps avoid either party becoming distracted
- Reinforces main sales points
- Increases conversion rates
Achieving active listening, which is key to increasing conversion rates, starts with creating the perfect “talk-to-listen” ratio during a call. So, how can this be done?
Talk-to-Listen Ratio in Sales: What is the Ideal Balance?
If you want to move from conversation to conversion, you’ll need to strike the right balance between talking with customers and listening to their responses. Ideally, you should strive to split calls evenly between each, keeping your talk-to-listen ratio at a healthy 45-55%. Unfortunately, many sales reps fail to hit this metric. For the most part, cold calls end up being heavily weighted to one side, with some representatives doing almost 3/4ths of the talking during a call.
If you are doing most of the talking, that usually means a few mistakes are taking place:
- Interrupting: While it isn’t always intentional, a sales rep may be interrupting a prospect in an effort to get their points across at a faster pace. With the volume of calls a rep must complete each day, this is an understandable error; still, to truly engage a prospect, you should aim to never interrupt a potential customer.
- Getting Distracted: If a sales rep gets distracted from their script and loses focus, they can begin to slip up. This leads to them repeating sections of their script, talking about subjects that have nothing to do with the sale, or asking irrelevant questions. All of this increases their talking time, reducing their chance of hitting a healthy talk-to-listen ratio.
- Panicking: If a rep feels the sale slipping through their fingers, they may panic and scramble to get the customer’s attention back. This means going off script and talking at a faster pace, which can cause them to lose any trust they’ve built up with the customer so far. Prospects want to feel like a sales rep is confident in their product or service, and if they see them talking rapidly and zipping from topic to topic, they aren’t likely to make a purchase.
How to Encourage Prospects to Talk More on Sales Cold Calls
So how can you tip the balance and get potential clients gabbing? Well, there are a few methods you can utilize to help get that ratio to as close to 50-50 as possible.
Method #1: Be Comfortable With a Bit of Silence
Many sales reps are incredibly uncomfortable with silence, and for good reason. Dead air on a sales call can be dangerous, and too much silence will certainly kill a sale. But this fear also leads to overcorrection: if you are talking non stop, there just isn’t space for a prospect to speak. Learn to be comfortable providing this space, and don’t panic if a customer takes a moment to respond. Silence will encourage them to speak, and by providing that space you appear more confident. Rushing to make your next point will devalue your previous one, and reduce the chance that a prospect will take you seriously. So take a breath, make your point, then embrace the space!
Method #2: Get More Time with Sales Automation Tools
Part of the reason many sales people are speaking so frequently and rushing through their scripts is time-loss. There are so many parts of the cold call process that soak up time; if you want to achieve a high volume of calls, every second counts. This leads to a mad dash towards the conversion finish line in an attempt to save time. Unfortunately, this sprint almost always ends up in a stumble.
By finding ways to save time, you can ensure that you don’t feel rushed when talking to a potential customer. High-efficiency sales tools like sales dialers can give you the buffer you need to allow your prospects to speak. By automating many conventional sales processes, the right sales dialer can shave up to 30 seconds off of the connection process for each call. While this may not seem like much, that time adds up, and 30 more seconds on a call can mean the difference between conversion and failure.
Method #3: Establish Trust
Part of the reason that a customer may not be willing to talk is due to a lack of trust. One of cold calling’s greatest weaknesses is that these potential customers don’t know you. Statistically speaking, there is a strong chance they don’t pick up at all, and if they do, they may be put off by a strange area code or 1-800 number. This starts the conversation off on a sour note, forcing a rep to fight to establish rapport in the short time they have.
To increase the chances that a customer picks up and appears as a local business, you’ll want to use local presence dialing. By using trusted local area codes, local presence dialing software facilitates more active calls and higher initial trust with prospects. Trust makes customers more comfortable, which gets them talking. Before long, you’ll have the right talk-to-listen ratio to achieve a higher conversion rate.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication: Boost Your Conversational Intelligence
Another key to achieving active listening is verbal and non-verbal communication. We all have a certain level of natural conversational intelligence, which enables us to not only navigate through a conversation but communicate our points effectively. Increasing that ability means looking at all of the ways you communicate on a cold call, whether that be your intonation, word-choice, or inflection.
While non-verbal communication doesn’t play into cold calling, it’s possible that you’ll need to complete a sale via video call or in-person. In those cases, there are a few ways you can improve your non-verbal cues:
- Let the customer know you are listening by maintaining a good level of eye contact and nodding your head.
- If the situation calls for it, take notes
- Smile and keep a positive expression, avoiding rolling your eyes or furrowing your brow
For verbal communication, there are several ways you can show you are actively listening:
- Sum up the customers points and repeat them back in a brief summary to show that they have your full attention.
- Note the tone of your customers' voice, and adjust your strategy according to their emotions. If they sound eager or excited, push that point. If they sound confused or disappointed, pull back and readjust.
- Ask well-constructed questions that get customers thinking and lead to more fulfilling answers.
Overall, it’s not possible to truly achieve active listening without the right tools. Kixie can reduce the time you waste during the cold calling process, giving you the space you need to let customers talk as much as possible. If you sign up now, we are offering a one-week trial of Kixie completely free; you don’t even need to enter a credit card. If you want to achieve the perfect talk-to-listen ration and actively listen to each customer, we can help. Don’t wait; start your free trial today!