At the beginning of today’s post allow me to put you to work. Take a couple of minutes and answer, with a simple yes or no, these 10 questions pertaining to listening.
- I anticipate what people will say next as they are speaking.
- I’m constantly judging the merit of what people say from their very first statement.
- I discount what other people say, if they don’t agree with my opinions and values.
- I rarely pay attention to nonverbal cues (such as body language and facial expressions).
- I let my biases and opinions affect my willingness to listen to what some people say.
- I prepare what I’m going to say in response, while the other person is talking.
- I often interrupt people to speed along a conversation or to inject my opinion.
- If I disagree with people, I interrupt them immediately to set the record straight.
- Most of the time, I am ready with a response as soon as the other person stops talking.
- If the other person is long winded or boring, I stop listening.
All I will say is that for every “yes” answer you gave, you could benefit from some improvement in the listening arena. If you answered “no” to all ten questions, you are an “extreme” listener. I am borrowing the term “extreme listening” from James Altucher. I read one of his articles in a financial publication I subscribe to, and he used that term. He also wrote a good book titled, Choose Yourself. His definition of that term is simply that people like to be heard, so he learned to set aside his ego and just learned to LISTEN.
If you were an on-air radio personality, one of the first things you would learn is that “dead air” is a no-no. By “dead air” I mean silence. Think about it, what do you do when your car radio goes silent for more than a few seconds? You glance down at the radio as if it committed a crime and immediately punch up another station, because you are wired to feel awkward when there is silence in your environment.
Overwhelmingly when only a couple seconds of silence occurs; the one who asked the question normally fills the void by speaking. In order to learn to become an extreme listener, you must realize that people are different and some require a couple of seconds after a question hits their ears, for their brain to formulate a response. So why not adopt a rule of thumb of counting to five slowly (and silently) each time you ask a question before you jump back in.
Since, for your benefit, your diagnosis and discovery questions really do need to be answered, make sure that your questioning is not perceived as an interrogation.
To encourage the maximum interaction from your prospect, ask mostly open questions, since there is a big difference between, “Do you agree”, and “How do you feel about this situation?” This will go a long way toward relaxing your prospect and helping them be more conversational.
Additionally, refrain from asking multiple questions in rapid succession or multiple paraphrasing of the same question. In a courtroom, a judge would call that “badgering the witness” and the last thing you want the prospect to feel like is a courtroom witness.
Never forget this next statement:
“You will listen your way into more sales than you will ever talk yourself into”
To help you become a better, no, an extreme listener, here are a dozen helpful insights:
Judge the message and not the speaker – Who says you have to like everyone you sell to?
Don’t get easily distracted – When in front of buyers, treat them as the only one in the world.
Maintain eye contact – This shows you are interested.
Don’t finish sentences for others – It’s not about what you know, but what they want to say.
Be patient, not evaluating their response before they finish giving it – You will probably avoid jumping to conclusions if you just let them finish their thought process.
Occasionally paraphrase their responses to ensure you get the meaning – This is how your prospect knows you are really listening and interested in them. Say something like, “So if I heard you correctly, you feel that…” or “From what you’re saying it sounds as if you think…”
Concentrate fully on the buyer, not faking attention – How do you feel when it appears people have to force themselves to talk with you?
Refrain from interrupting – Homeowners have your money in their pockets until you convince them to give it up, so don’t annoy them by butting in.
Listen for the emotional meaning being telegraphed – There is always meaning behind the words, so sometimes it’s what isn’t said that could be most important.
Chill… – Don’t exhibit too much or too little emotion, regardless of what is being said.
Keep distracting mannerisms under control – Videotape yourself occasionally and watch the show. It might surprise you, as we all do little things that are irritating to others. The sooner you find what yours are, the faster you will be able to stop doing them. It might save your career.
Set aside your ego and focus on the prospect – You are not the center of the universe. The one spending the money deserves their “fifteen minutes of fame”, so take a backseat.
—————DIY Sales Training & Coaching Tips—————
If you are like most sales managers, you’re sad that there is not a college degree available in common sense face-to-face communication skills for salespeople. But there is a next best thing. Check it out here, and you will discover some very inexpensive homegrown help for your sales folks.
©2017 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC