Are you ‘hearing’ your customers?
Let’s face it, few human beings are excellent listeners, including salespeople. And seeing as how considerably more time is focused on teaching sales professionals how to craft elaborate benefit statements, deliver persuasive presentations, and create show-stopping responses to client objections, it is little wonder sellers fail to commit to becoming better listeners. Are you patient? And are you comfortable with silence? Or do you find yourself interrupting or finishing other’s sentences? Someone will always fill the silence. Let it be your customer…they will fill it with information that leads you to opportunity.
Do you simply hear words? Or do you listen for the meaning and implication behind those words? The reason why top sellers always know the next “smart” question to ask is because they consider the meaning of their clients’ words before responding or moving on.
When people are in conversation with you, do they have 100% of your attention? I was once complimented by a client, years after meeting at a busy conference, with these kind words, “Jill, when I talked to you that day I felt as if I was the only person in the room.” How easy it is to forget that we are always more memorable if we focus on being interested rather than trying to be interesting.
When your clients disagree, or offer opinions that conflict with your own beliefs, are you willing to explore this opposite point of view? Or do you subconsciously filter their words to hear what you choose to hear? Worse still, do you immediately jump to defend your own position, causing the client to withdraw?
Are you able to refrain from giving your point of view until others have shared fully, so that when you speak you do so with more impact? I recall a senior strategy meeting that went around in circles, each executive jumping on the words of their colleagues, determined to have their say. Except for one who remained silent. When the rest of us were done he simply said, “After listening to everyone’s opinion on the matter I have just three things to say…” His three points, shared in under two minutes, were more insightful than two hours of earlier dialogue.
Source: Sales consultant/speaker Jill Harrington
Yet “hearing” our customers is foundational to sales success.
So here are five questions to get you reflecting on your own listening proficiency. Better still, have a colleague shadow your calls or observe your meetings and have them provide the answers. Either way, take time to think about your own listening skills and how they contribute to, or dilute, your personal sales effectiveness.