Listen More, Talk Less: How to Implement Active Listening in Retail

“Sincere salespeople listen to customers and uncover their pains so they can provide a fitting solution.”1 While speaking to a customer you should listen more than you speak. The main agenda in sales is to have customers buy your product. The buying process is not about your wants and needs, it’s about the customers. Sales associates often push too hard with an agenda that is not in line with the customer’s needs. Leave your agenda in the dust and start listening. Customers will tell you what their needs are; sincerely listen and the sale will happen.

Active listening is a common communication tool retailers use to improve their customer service. The best part of active listening is that it is a free sales tool, it is quick to implement, and easy to learn. According to, active listening is a communication technique “where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the word that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.” To increase your retail sales, try following these 4 tips on how to become a better active listener.

  1. Sales and customer service reps always need to maintain eye contact in a natural and proper way. Eye contact is a sign that you are a good listener and notifies the speaker that you are paying attention. Establishing eye contact is a critical stage of building trust and rapport, skills that are important for sales.body language
  2. Awareness of your body language is just as important as paying attention to theirs. Just like in a conversation with a friend, giving nonverbal feedback such as nodding your head or reacting with appropriate facial expressions can let a person know you are listening. Watch the customer’s body language; you will be able to tell if they are stressed, antsy, happy, etc., and then respond.
  3. Patience, patience, and more patience. You may be tempted to interrupt a customer but don’t give in. Let the speaker finish what they have to say and then respond accordingly. Listen to the information they are telling you and use it to your advantage.reflective thinking
  4. Paraphrasing the customer’s thoughts in your own words shows the customer you understand what they are saying and can also help clarify any loose ends or miscommunications.

Be aware: On college campuses too much interaction can be a negative thing. Students often come to the campus store to grab something quickly between classes. When integrating active listening techniques into your sales strategy, it is crucial to explain that there are times when active listening is not needed. Here’s an example: let’s say a student is looking for a notebook. Your job is then to tell them where they can find the notebooks, but if the student wants an opinion on which notebook is best, ask them a few questions and listen up. Paying attention to body language and other nonverbal factors can help your staff decipher the needs of the customer.

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