Measure Your Listening Skills

Learn how sales professionals can measure if they are really hearing what’s important to home buyers.
By John Rymer, New Home Knowledge | October 31, 2008
Rymer's Rules

Every sales professional knows that listening is the key to great salesmanship. But how good are your listening skills? When I ask most salespeople this question, the answers typically range from “pretty good” to “excellent.” But are you really sure? Can you really measure how well you hear what a customer is looking for?

Track the time

To start, try a test that anyone can take. Begin by taking two stop watches with you on a sales presentation. (You can also do this as an after-the-fact measurement when reviewing a video sales shop.) Use the stop watch in your right hand to measure the time the sales professional is speaking. Use the stop watch in your left hand to measure the time the customer is speaking. At the conclusion of the sales presentation, compare the time of each stop watch! Uh Oh!

Sales professionals with excellent listening skills should expect that the time on each stop watch will be approximately the same, meaning the same amount of time the customer is speaking is equivalent to the time the salesperson is speaking. Yet the results of most new home sales presentations I review are far more one sided: 10-1 in favor of the sales professional or even as high as 20-1.

Take actions

The point of this exercise is to understand you're not listening if you're talking. While it's certainly true that a customer's talking is no guarantee that the sales professional is listening, it's also true that if the sales professional is monopolizing what's being said, the customer is rarely engaged — or heard — during the visit.

The root of the problem is that the vast majority of sales professionals have abandoned “selling” in lieu of “presenting.” Rather than seeking to understand the customer's needs and build the presentation around a solution, they focus their efforts with the customer on presenting their models and floor plans, hoping that something in the presentation may have meet their needs.

Author Information
John Rymer is the founder of New Home Knowledge, which offers sales training for new home builders and real-estate professionals. You can reach him at


Rymer's Rules

Great sales presentations involve 50% listening and 50% speaking
Sales agents who don't take the time to listen learn little about the needs of their customers.

Good questions equal better answers 
Great questions get the customer talking and uncover their needs and motivations in buying a home — essential information for making a sale.

If you're talking, you're not listening 
It's far easier to “listen” your way to a sale than to keep demonstrating something you're not sure your customer wants or needs.


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