Video: Plan to Win! #6 Stop Hearing…Start Listening
Welcome to Action Selling’s PlantoWin! series!
Welcome to Action Selling’s PlantoWin! series! Your go-to resource for real-world solutions to real-world sales challenges.
This week we’re talking about how to stop “hearing” and start “listening”.
Ernest Hemingway once suggested, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen”. If on some level, Hemingway’s quotation resonates you’re not alone.
Based on our research and experience with sales people, improved listening skills is often cited as a top need. Most folks know they need to be better listeners, but really improving their efforts is often unsuccessful.
So why the disconnect? The first challenge is often psychological. In its most simplistic form a conversation is just an interaction and communication give-and-take between two or more people. The sales conversation however for us is more like an interaction on a tightrope, riding a unicycle! There is a lot going on! For many of us, we hear that voice in our head that says, “I know I need to ask great questions and deliver a presentation and I need to close.”
The reality is this in-the-moment balancing act creates a pressure-packed situation in which we hear, but do not listen. Second, for many it’s an issue of whether we are asking strong enough questions to allow us to be a great listener. When they’re sending or receiving a message we have all experienced the impact of ineffective listening in the sales conversation. The effects may include missed relationship opportunities or missed customer needs, solutions that miss the mark, or an increased risk for objections.
So we know that listening is clearly essential to effective sales communication and we know that both sales folks don’t do it well, so what can we do to set ourselves apart?
In our next sales conversation, two things come to mind, first, get in position to be a great listener. Whether you are building rapport or discussing your customers needs, focus on asking open-ended questions. Questions that begin with “who”, “what”, “where”, “why”, “when” and “how”, cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” and allow the customer to provide more expansive answers.
Second, when the customer does begin to share more, hearing is not enough. We must actively listen. Active listening can be improved by first focusing on staying in the moment. Suppress any environmental or psychological distractions.
Third, strive for understanding and listen for what’s not being said. Remember, this may be the first time a customer has tried to articulate answers to your questions.
Fourth, be disciplined about formulating your response until after the customers done speaking. When the customer’s speaking, focus on their message not your next question or what your response should be.
Finally, take detailed notes. Trying to remember what’s being said and actively listen is virtually impossible. More importantly, note taking is an outward exhibit of our listening skills. Ensuring the customer that their message is our number one focus.
Thanks for tuning in. Listen, we hope the past few minutes have been worthwhile. If you do have additional questions on this topic or really anything related to sales communication, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
In the meantime, good luck and Good Action Selling.