Four Reasons Why Salespeople Aren’t Listening to Prospects

The number one complaint most consumers have with salespeople is that they don’t listen enough. Whether it’s during a cold call, a follow-up or in-person meeting, many prospects become disinterested to salespeople who dominate the conversation at the beginning and never let up. Truth is, listening is the beginning of establishing any relationship – doesn’t matter if you’re trying to gain a customer or just a friend. 

And there are a number of reasons why salespeople aren’t listening to prospects. 

Eagerness to Identify Solutions & Not Listen to Problems

The first mistake in not listening to consumers is trying to pitch your idea instead of hearing the prospect’s problem first. Maybe most of you have come across the phrase, “Without a Need, Don’t Proceed”. Even if you’ve read about a prospect’s need for your services, don’t assume you should take the lead and offer up solutions right off the bat. Consumers choose products off of the value they offer, how well that company is perceived, and whether the employees under that roof are people who they can easily relate to and feel comfortable around. Be considerate of their business and needs by asking two questions to their one. 

Desperation to Close 

The third quarter is nearly a month in, and salespeople all over are reviewing current deals in the works while still searching out new prospects to hopefully join the close of this quarter or soon after. If this were a week left in a quarter and some in your sales team were falling short of their quota, they’ll naturally push on the gas a bit more with talks and try to wrap up negotiations faster. And through all the pressure, they might accidentally commit errors they’d otherwise never do, like not listening at key intervals. 

Nerves Take Over

There’s no doubt that salespeople must be confident in every meeting, phone call, presentation, etc. But not every salesperson has the same confidence level. It’s possible to be a reserved, above-average listener one minute and a nervous wreck who talks over a conversation the next. Confidence requires poise during the most crucial stages of dealing with a prospect. If a salesperson cracks under pressure, one of the most common defenses to get back into the conversation is to talk more than usual. You might start pushing too much about your product and fail to listen to the customer’s end. If that’s the case, there may be a need for confidence-improving training to go with whatever other sales training programs they’re currently involved with. 

Lack of Preparation

One of the easiest ways for a prospect to tell if the salesperson is losing control of the conversation is if they try to talk their way out of not knowing something. Crowding the conversation happens when salespeople overcompensate for not understanding a question, or not being able to answer product-related inquiries as in-depth as they should, and so forth. It’s harder for someone to say little when they don’t know than it is to cloud indecision with extra padding. 

Suffice it to say, listening is an art form. And while salespeople are supposed to be engaging and lively around prospects, the need to constantly inform is not nearly as valued as the need to listen in on what the other person has to say.


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