A few days ago I received an article related to the subject of knowing how to listen as a fundamental part of the sales process.
The author of this article, Keith Rosen, comments on several aspects that were discussed in one of our articles related to this topic and there are several additional elements that strengthen and ratify the importance that this skill has for a sales professional.
The ability to know how to listen has proven to be one of the elements that can have the greatest impact on business productivity.
Unfortunately, it is one of the least developed skills in sales professionals. It is still a common practice to believe that a good sales job is related to the ability to speak.
Intelligent listening is related to more elements than just listening to the words that come out of the mouth of our prospect or client.
The ability to listen implies a high level of concentration, patience, knowing how to interpret what the person communicates to us, and the ability to understand non-verbal communication, among others.
Rosen says in his article that it is known that more than 60% of the problems among business people derive from failures in the communication process.
The author presents 8 questions that allow you to identify what may be the most common mistakes that are made when we are supposed to be listening to the client. Let’s see what they are.
Most Common Failures To Listen To The Client
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.Are you distracted when the client is speaking? Are you thinking of other matters or what you are going to say as soon as you have a chance to interrupt the customer?
.During the conversation, are you waiting for a pause from the client to be able to talk about all your knowledge about the client’s problem and how your solution is the best option on the market?
.Is it impossible for you to remain silent?
.Do you pretend that you are listening to the customer, but deep down they are waiting for any opportunity to start talking?
.Do you practice Selective Listening, that is to say, that you only listen to what you only want to hear?
.Are you aware of the message that your interlocutor is sending you in addition to the words they speak? That is, are you aware of body language, facial expression, eye contact, and vocal intonation?
.Are you distracted by existing environmental elements in the conversation space such as noise, other people, etc.?
Do you apply “filters” at the time of listening? When talking about filters, the author refers to aspects such as making prior judgments derived from the appearance of the person, gender, past experiences, age, and other elements that create an automatic barrier in communication.
If you identify with some of these behaviors, you surely have an interesting space to improve your ability to listen more intelligently and develop communication scenarios with your prospects or clients that can generate significant improvements in your business results.
Let’s see some of the recommendations that the author makes.
To show that you are actively listening. Try to get out of the habit of waiting for a brief pause from your interlocutor to start demonstrating everything you know.
The recommendation is not to show a desire to speak, pause before speaking, and leave a space of 3 to 4 seconds in silence before answering a question or giving an opinion.
Express with sincerity and attention how important what your interlocutor is expressing is to you. Make these pauses consciously and take this time to think in detail about how you will argue your answer or opinion.
Never Interrupt Your Interlocutor
While he is talking. Do not use affirmative or negative gestures, do not mention anything, and less aggressively interrupt what he/she is saying
Listen attentively, and interested, and try to remove any “filters” we talked about earlier. Don’t focus on what you should say next, just focus on understanding and listening in detail to what the person is talking about. Do not be distracted by elements of the environment. If possible, don’t get distracted by taking notes.
Make Your Interlocutor Feel Heard
To do this, try using tactics like summarizing a few key elements of the conversation. Use phrases and concepts expressed by your interlocutor in the summary or in the clarifications you make.
Reaffirm in a few moments, without interrupting your client, the needs and the most important elements of the conversation. Do not worry for now about giving solutions in your interventions, just focus on using phrases to clarify and reinforce what you have understood.
Become A Solution-oriented listener.
This means that you must somehow guide the conversation with questions and clarifications directed at a clear objective that you have established for your meeting.
Listen to those elements that are not being said
Identify messages behind the words. Develop questions to be able to explore more those messages that are not said in words but in gestures and behaviors of the interlocutor.
Concentrate a lot on your interlocutor to be able to “hear” not only what they are speaking but also what they are “saying” with their body language
Resist The Temptation To Counter
It is part of human behavior to try to refute or express your own position and thought in relation to various issues or situations.
Avoid this in the phases of understanding the needs of your client. There will be other spaces in the development of the sales process, do not try to refute or express your concepts in this phase.
Listen Identifying Information
This means that you must learn to extract valuable information from what your clients are expressing. It’s not just an exercise in listening to the words and phrases your customer is speaking.
It is extracting from what you hear, information that helps you understand the client’s situation, their motivators, and the elements that will be key to their business strategy.
One thing is the way you develop a conversation and another is the strategy that you begin to develop, seeking information from the first interview with your prospect or client.
The author makes four final recommendations that he considers important to master the skill of listening.
These recommendations are:
.Listen to discover what is not said in words, what is behind what the client says
.Listen to customer concerns and what is important to the customer
.Listen to what are the things that are valuable to the customer
.Listen to what the client wants and needs to identify how to reduce the gap between what they have and what they want to have
The successful sales process is based on obtaining good information and knowing how to use it properly. One of the fundamental sources of information is a direct conversation with those involved in the customer to carry out an evaluation and purchase process.
Developing skills related to obtaining the correct information through verbal and non-verbal communication is key to achieving greater productivity and business effectiveness.