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Listening Your Way to a Sale


How to Listen Your Way to the Sale

When Simon and Garfunkel penned their classic, “The Sounds of Silence,” they weren’t singing about the sales process — though the idea applies. The greatest salespeople know how to “be” with silence, and they embrace it, not just as a sales tool, but as an effective way to build relationships with clients and prospects, which is what successful selling is all about.

As we discussed in The Art of Socratic Selling, stellar salespeople understand that communication, as the cornerstone of selling, is more than mere words. It also encompasses:

  • Body language: eye contact, intonation and facial expression;
  • Patience, to allow your reverse mortgage client time to formulate and express thoughts without interruption;
  • Recapping the other person’s ideas to show understanding;
  • Focusing on what your senior prospect is really communicating.

To “listen your way into the sale” with reverse mortgage prospects, take these timeless tips to heart:

  1. Follow the four-second rule. It’s challenging to allow silence in an interaction. Yet, this is your opportunity to encourage your senior prospect to share even more. When you’re tempted to jump right in with your response, count a minimum of three to four seconds to yourself. It will seem like an eternity, but this “pause that refreshes” can actually motivate your reverse mortgage prospect to continue speaking, sharing key information. Isn’t it intriguing that listen and silent are anagrams?
  2. Wait your turn. Along with not talking with your mouth full, your mother probably drilled into you the importance of not interrupting when someone else is talking. It’s just good manners, and no one — especially a senior client in the midst of sharing a problem he hopes you can help resolve — wants to be interrupted midstream.
  3. Stay focused. It’s tempting to drift when the client is describing a drawn-out tale similar to what you’ve heard before. But instead of allowing your mind to think about making the sale, keep it on what’s taking place. A senior prospect’s subtle cues may give you the information you need to help resolve the issue, which will cement the relationship more solidly than any effort you make to sell her on the finer points of a reverse mortgage.
  4. Dive beneath the surface. What’s not being said? If you feel you’re getting mixed messages based on body language or other cues, ask questions to discover what’s not being communicated that may be equally important.
  5. Release your preconceptions. Your prospect may be sharing information that pushes your buttons because it’s new or different from what you expect. Allow yourself to listen without filtering it through preconceived ideas.
  6. Make meaning. When you listen to words, you get one level of information. When you listen beyond words, you’re creating true communication. In your client interactions, learn to listen deeply for:a.
    a. What’s not being said
    b. Underlying concerns
    c. Values and vision
    d. Wants and needs that bridge the gap from where a prospect is to where they want to be.

Giving your clients true attention and acknowledgement is the best way to build lasting rapport, relationship- and sales.


Leave a Comment


  1. Hi Amara, I know I sound like a broken record, but once again I want you to know that I think the article is EXCELLENT.

    I’m 77 years old and I’ve been in sales for about 50 years, and I’m not too proud to say that I picked up a couple of pieces of information from your article that will make me a “Better Listener” and hopefully will close a few more loans for me in the next 8 to 10 years when I finally retire.

    I’m very impressed that you are so knowledgeable about so many various topics. I know we both graduated from Penn State University, but you learned a lot more than I did.

  2. Hi Owen ~

    Thank you so much for your kind comments! To set the record straight: I don’t know all this instinctively, nor is it information I learned in college all those years ago. 🙂 I do a LOT of research!

    I’m grateful these posts serve you in your reverse mortgage business — that’s the ultimate goal.

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