Listen more to sell more. It’s a premise that sounds so simple. And while most salespeople will tell you they’re really good listeners, I’ve sat in a number of calls, and I know that’s not actually the case.

Here are 10 key tips to help you listen better to get stronger ad sales results.


1. Experts report that 80% of critical sales information is heard, not spoken.

If you want to be a great listener, be mindful not to talk for 80% of the time in a conversation with your prospect or client. Your real opportunity lies in listening.


2. Active listening is extremely helpful in building rapport.

Active listening is about paying attention. It’s about taking notes and repeating things to ensure you don’t miss out on something that’s really important. When you’ve taken excellent notes, you can tell your client, “What I’ve heard you say is 1, 2, 3. I’ve got some great ways to help you with that.”


3. To prove you’re listening, repeat back, but paraphrase.

Active listening involves repeating back to people what you’ve heard, but it’s important to paraphrase it. Don’t just read it back to them word for word, because that’s annoying. Paraphrase it.


4. Listen for adjectives your client is using, and then use them yourself.

When I sit down with an ad sales client who uses phrases like ‘wise ideas,’ marketing savvy,’ or ‘really unique,’ I make sure to write these down. Then I use these in my communication such as, “I think this will be a very wise solution, Mr. Jones,” and “I think this will be a savvy solution for you.”


5. Listen for tempo and mimic it.

If you’re a person who talks fast, like me, and you’re dealing with somebody who talks quite slow, make sure you’re listening for their tempo. Then mirror their tempo to the best of your ability.


6. Listen for volume and mimic it.

If your client is a quiet talker, you need to mirror their volume, as well. If they’re a loud talker, mirror that. Just pay attention, listen to them, and mimic their speed and volume within reason.


7. Clarify your understanding by asking for specifics.

You can increase your comprehension all throughout the ad sales call by listening and asking for specifics. For example, “Mr. Jones, can you give me some specifics on that?” Or, “Mr. Jones, can you give me a few more specifics on A, B and C.”


8. Listen for clues to close the deal.

Phrases like, “I need to do this really soon,” “My boss is upset, and I need to get something figured out,” “We’ve got a challenge that we’ve got to figure out in the next 30 days,” are all signals your prospect is ready to close the deal. Listen for these clues and buying signals and be prepared to act on them.


9. Don’t interrupt.

There’s almost nothing more annoying than someone who interrupts. As a listening skill, if you have an answer ready to give to a client, don’t be sitting on the edge of your seat. Now if you do need to interject something, wait for the appropriate time. Signify that you have something to say, but don’t interrupt.


10. Ask questions – but smart ones.

Ask questions that have a real purpose, don’t ask questions just to ask questions, and be careful to avoid open-ended ones that are trite and overused. Here are some great questions you can consider: “What would one new customer mean to you?” “What can I do to save you money this month?” “When you took this meeting with me, was there a problem you were hoping that I could potentially solve?”


To sum up, listening is a skill every salesperson says they’re good at. Yet when I evaluate sales strategy, most of the time I find that salespeople are preaching. Remember this: When you’re preaching, you’re not listening. And when you’re not listening, you’re not selling.


Love using Ryan’s insights? Make sure to sign up today for Super Niche (March 24-25) where Ryan will be leading three sessions!



About Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award-winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant and in international motivational speaker. He is the author of the best-selling ad sales book, Selling Backwards.  He is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media and 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique ad sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation. Ryan is also the Publisher of Sales Training World.


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10 Reasons to Open Your Ad Sales Ears—and Listen