5 Tips to help you to improve your Listening Skills (E)
One of the most basic human needs is to “Understand and be Understood” The best way to start down the road of “Understanding”, is to ask meaningful questions and then to actively listen to the answers given. This is true if you want to succeed in your normal day to day life, but is even more relevant, if you are in a sales role and you want to understand how to connect your value proposition to a future customer’s needs, values and expectations.
When people feel heard:
- They are more engaged
- They are more willing to connect with people
- They want to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way
All three of the above criterion are critical, if you are engaged in a sales meeting, where you are looking to:
- “Connect” with a future customer, so that you can build rapport with them
- Ask them meaningful questions, so that you can “Discover” their specific needs, values and expectations
- “Show” them the correct solution, which aligns your value proposition with what they need to:
- Help them to sleep at night (Provide the Right Solution)
- Enhance their life experience (Eliminate challenges)
- Improve their profitability (Optimise their bottom line)
- Improve efficiency of their team or organisation
- Reduce costs
- Earn the right to “Close” the sale
- Start a partnership with your future customers
- Integrate into their business
- Become an additional resource to your customers businesses
Listening is as important as Speaking
- We are taught to speak at school, when we are asked to deliver speeches in front of our peers in the classroom environment
- There are entire organisations, such as Toast Masters, which are there to teach us to become effective Talkers.
- There are numerous courses designed to teach us to Speak, but none that teach us the crucial art of listening.
In all the noise and clatter that goes on around learning to become effective at speaking, we tend to ignore the art of Listening altogether. I believe that listening is as important as speaking and in certain situations, may even be more important. Effective communication is based on there being a message transmitted, but more importantly that message needs to be received and understood by the receiver for communication to occur.
Listening during a Sales Encounter
I have asked a number of sales teams over the years about how much time they should spend talking and how much time they should spend listening, during a sales meeting with a future customer. The amount of time has varied from, 90 % listening and 10 % speaking to 60 % listening and 40 % speaking. The consensus has always been one where, the sales professional listens more than they speak.
The research we conducted over a two-year period, where we looked at the top, middle and bottom performers in 22 of our top customers, showed that the magic number is around 60% listening and 40% speaking.
Here are five ways to support you to learn to listen more
1 – Be Present
- Ask meaningful questions and then actively listen to the answers offered. This is achieved by becoming completely “Present”, where you focus your entire attention on listening to what your future customer is saying.
- Don’t sit thinking about what you are going to say next. Focus your entire attention on trying to “Understand” exactly what is being said.
- When “Actively listening”, it is crucial to not only listen to the words that are spoken, but to also focus on the tone of voice, facial expressions and the body language of the person delivering the message.
- Make eye contact and nod your head to show interest.
- If necessary, allow yourself to “Pause” before answering. This will give you time to think before answering and show your future customer that what they have just said is valuable.
2 – Walk in their Shoes
- If you truly want to connect with a future customer and understand them. It is critical that you imagine yourself in their situation.
- Try to understand where your future customer is coming from.
- Try to uncover why they respond in the way they do.
- Walk in your future customers shoes and make the effort to understand their unique situation and really “HEAR” them
3 – Restate what you have heard
- When engaging your future customers, pick up on a few crucial points and restate them, to show that you are listening.
- Ask for clarification on any points that you did not understand
- If you do not understand anything, rather admit it and ask for clarification
4 – Become Curious
- Learn to see every sales conversation as an opportunity to learn something new.
- See every customer engagement as an opportunity to learn something new
- See listening as a crucial part of growing and learning as much as you can about your future customers
5 – Know what personality type people are
- There are four different personality types and each of them have different thinking styles and decision-making processes.
- It becomes far easier to listen to someone and effectively engage with them, when you understand who you are dealing with
When listening and communicating with the different personality types explore the graphic above:
When listening to a Socialiser, listen for clues about their people and focus your attention on communicating how your value proposition will support their people to prosper.
When listening and communicating with an Organiser, listen for clues about the systems and methods they will want to introduce and communicate this to them.
When listening to a Learner, ensure that you are listening for clues about all the info and data they need to acquire, before they can make a decision.
When listening to a Dominant, listen carefully for the key points that are important to them and then deliver a powerful summary, which encompasses these points only.