This is the third article in the series, The Art of Selling. This series of articles on selling will highlight some of the basic skills that if applied, will make you a better salesperson. The basics never change! The previous articles covered prospecting and phone skills.
Listening is defined as: Taking in information, while remaining non-judgmental and empathetic; acknowledging the talker in a way that invites the communication to continue; and providing the limited, but encouraging input to the talker’s respose, carrying the person’s idea one step forward.
Most people believe that salespeople are successful due to their tremendous gift of gab. Nothing could be further from the truth! They are great LISTENERS! Only by putting aside your need to be heard can you really begin to listen and learn.
It is important to understand listening blocks and be able to identify personal listening habits that need to be improved. A common listening block is EGO block. Because of our tremendous need to be heard, our egos often overwhelm any desire to listen. Listening to others gives us information. Information is power! Effective listeners are able to find valid information in everything they hear.
Why then do we talk so much? It is impossible to learn anything while you are talking! Are you talking too much? Are these expressions familiar to you?
Are you listening to me?
Did you hear what I said?
You really need to hear this.
If so, practice the art of silence. The goal for the time that you allow the other person to talk is 50% of the time. Otherwise you are not listening enough.
Why do we interrupt others? Do you find yourself interrupting others with your thoughts and ideas? Do you often finish statements for others? If so, remember that interrupting or finishing statements for others will lessen their desire to communicate.
Practice giving the gift of patience, an important ingredient for open communication.
Some tips for breaking the interruption habit:
Listen for periods and question marks as audible punctuation. Until you hear that final pause, button your lip!
If possible, keep something to drink close by. Take a sip as they speak and you’ll allow them time to delivery a whole message.
Count to 3 after someone has finished. It not only ensures that the person has stopped talking, but allows you to gather your thoughts.
One Upmanship – why do we improve on other’s stories? This is also known as the bigger fish syndrome.
If your mind is racing ahead of a speaker, you will not be able to effectively respond to someone’s total communication. Many customers like to talk and tell stories and you are there to listen. Some stories may be to confuse the issue or merely their way to deal with apprehension.
Practice the gift of interest. It shows you care.
To resist the bigger fish syndrome, here are some tips:
Remember what you are there for. Before you give your “improved” version of a story, stop and think why you are together.
Focus on the theme … not the plot. Show a real interest in their story and you’ll learn more about them, and remember customers like people who listen to their stories!
By putting aside your need to be heard, you can really begin to listen and learn! Only then can you begin to give your clients the personalized service they truly desire.