What is the secret of a good salesperson?

I believe this is the million-dollar question, as the Americans say.

Whether for those in sales, or for those who have a company, need to sell and consequently recruit salespeople, or for those who are curious in this area, any one of us has thought about this many times.

At Results&Driven, since 2003, we have trained thousands of people, either in workshops open to the public, in tailor-made programs directly in the companies, or in events.

But why do I mention all these numbers?

It’s not to brag. Those who hire us know that our work in the training area, is specialized in sales and leadership, implies that by only doing this our responsibility is even greater.

To meet the expectations of our customers we have conducted several investigations together with our customers’ salespeople and some partners in other areas.

We could say that these secrets are divided into two categories.

The first is a category common to all types of sales. It does not change from the sort of business to the sort of business.

The second is more specific and depends on the type of business and how the sales cycle occurs.
Therefore, this article focus only on the first one.

In the realm of the secrets of good salespeople, we could put to the forefront one that most of them forget.

It is “Listening! Really Listening!”.

By listening, we mean resisting the temptation to speak first.

Resist also the temptation to present your company first without knowing the minimum information necessary to frame your product or service offering.

Resist completely ignoring various aspects of listening to which we usually do not give importance or, worse than that, are not even aware that they exist.

One of the things I talked about recently in one of my training was the “empathy” factor.

Most people don’t understand that listening is one act that creates the most empathy within humanity.

By listening with “listening ears”, with undivided attention to the person, we massage the ego of the other part, giving it focus, and importance, and this, whether you like it or not, creates a powerful empathic channel.

Now, the simple act of listening has a lot going for it.

So let’s try to understand what “listening with listening ears” is.

To do this, I will go in the negative and tell you what listening is not.

It is not listening and, at the same time, mentally criticizing the person and drawing arguments to give him an answer afterward.

It is not to listen to be thinking about what we will have for dinner tonight.

It is not listening and already creating all the argumentation that I think he should hear, and that is often a tape I have already prepared.

Listening is to focus unconditionally on the person in front of you as if there were no one else in the world around you in that moment.

As I mentioned before, this focus allows us to give a true “massage” to the other person’s ego and create a strong empathic relationship.

If you think about the “deficit” of listening that most people have nowadays, you quickly understand that when a person who knows how to listen appears, they stand out in our mind and win points.

In the field of listening, there are two techniques, one that hurts and one that doesn’t. Which would you prefer me to tell you first?


Let’s go with the one that hurts!

The one that hurts is simple.

It is biting your tongue!

When you start to disperse, or you will talk almost over what the client is saying, often interrupting him rudely, bite your tongue and listen.

The other one that doesn’t hurt is to mentally repeat what the other person is saying to you so that you can focus on it with all your attention and not disperse.

In listening, we must also respect the rhythms of the other person; we have already mentioned several times that people have different rhythms depending on their behavioral patterns.

Let’s imagine a fast-paced salesman selling to a very calm client, one of those who even have exaggerated pauses in a speech.

For a fast-paced person, what does a pause represent?

Of course! It is an opportunity to talk.

You will jump into the other person’s speech, thinking it is your chance to enter the conversation.

For the calmer person, what does this situation represent?

As you might imagine, it represents terrible manners.

Because the pause for him was just a moment when he went inside his head to stop for a while and feel what he was saying or hearing.

When he is interrupted by the other person, just because he took more than a second to speak, he will be irritated, to say the least, since they interrupted his speech and his thought process.

Another thing about listening that a good salesperson knows and uses is that listening is not only done with the ears.

In our training we usually play with three phrases:

“Listening with eyes.”
“Listening with the belly”
“Listening with the ears”

When people hear these phrases, they find it strange. Still, after we put them through several behavioral exercises, they realize that they usually only gather 33% of the information available in a meeting or sale.

For example, in the visual domain, we may emphasize the whole body language component.

A salesperson trained to visually detect the buying signals or the emotions happening in a customer has much more information at their disposal to conclude a deal successfully.

Similarly, a salesperson who learns to “listen” to their intuition, understanding how to do it. Often, the brain has much more information accumulated from an interaction with the customer than they think it has, which has a clear advantage in the sale.

Finally, even by listening with the ears, it is possible to expand further the amount of information gathered. This is because, for example, by learning to calibrate our customer’s vocal patterns to detect what is happening in a particular situation, even if what he is telling us is something normal.

So you see, a good salesperson has to master the “art of listening with all the senses.”

On average, of the sales behaviors that we follow in the field, I can tell you that generally, salespeople don’t even collect 33% of the information in the sale.

Want an example?

The famous phrase:

“Okay! We’ll talk later.”

It may indicate that the sale is going forward or mean: go away; I can’t hear you anymore.

How can the salesperson make the distinction?

Of course, as you have guessed, through listening with all the senses.

This week stop for a moment to think:

“Are my salespeople listening to everything they should in a sale?”

Originally published at Results Driven.



A magazine about sales and negotiation strategies and techniques, written in a simple and direct manner by salespeople for salespeople.

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Jose Almeida

Jose Almeida

Sales and Negotiation, Trainer, Coach and Speaker. Author of several sales articles and books. Made his career in sales and leadership in several companies.