Overall, strive to become not just a passive listener, but an active listener. We'll be examining the how-to of active listening in much more detail later in this site, but here are some starting points to give you a quick sense of what active listening means in sales.
Active listening is a topic in itself, but means, among other things, not just sitting there, but becoming actively and visibly involved with the speaker.
Depending on the situation, that might mean giving clear feedback that you are understanding correctly, nodding, taking notes on items that are particularly relevant — as all of these are signals to the speaker that this is what you're really looking for.
Thus "active listening" may not be just listening: it could be saying encouraging words—like "I understand," or "Interesting," or "Mmm, I see," or whatever helps to the speaker realized that he or she is on-course to what you need to know.
Active listening may also mean asking follow-up questions as needed.
Yet active listening also means knowing when to be silent, and when to let the speaker "roam free."
The content in this post has been adapted from my books, How to Sell Face to Face: Survival Guide, and Selling 101. They are available in various e-book and paper editions; see below:
Survival Guide: Order paperback edition via Amazon
Survival Guide: Order e-book as Amazon Kindle (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)
Survival Guide: Order e-book via Kobo, usable on various kinds of e-readers
Selling 101 (third edition): Order e-book as Amazon Kindle (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)