Customer Experience News & Trends

Why don’t salespeople listen?

Only one in ten purchasing agents feels that salespeople really listen, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Purchasing Agents. Why don’t they?

Here are the seven typical barriers to effective listening:

  1. Thinking about something else while the prospect is talking? Thoughts about the next sales call or what you have to say to close the sale may cause you to miss some critical information.
  2. Waiting for a pause in the conversation so you can interrupt the prospect and get back to what you think the prospect needs to hear to make a buying decision.
  3. Dismissing or ignoring the prospect’s question or objection  in favor of what you think is more critical information.
  4. Faking listening so his or her comments won’t get in the way of your presentation.
  5. Listening to only what you want to hear. If you agree with the prospect’s comment, you listen. If not, you try to change the subject as soon as possible.
  6. Anticipating what the prospect is going to say based on what you see, not what you hear. Passing judgment based on subjective factors such as age or appearance may be the major barrier to effective listening.
  7. Ignoring body language such as facial expressions, physical gestures, eye contact and vocal intonation.

Adapted from Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. NY) by Keith Rosen. Mr. Rosen is president of Profit Builders (

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