At one point in the workshop, each participant described the primary problems they were having building their business, and salesman Joseph described his inability to really connect with his customers and prospects. He just couldn’t get them to seriously engage with him.
Do you know someone like Joseph?
Doing more talking than listening…frequently interrupting your customer when they’re speaking…acting distracted during a conversation…not sustaining eye contact when you are listening…diverting the focus of a discussion from the customer to you.
These are classic poor listening habits that communicate a lack of respect for your customer, compromising your effectiveness and ability to build relationships. Joseph wasn’t even aware of his deficient behavior.
Listening is not a passive act. In our world of perpetual urgency, being an active listener makes you distinctive – it’s a competitive advantage. In fact, prospects and customers cite engaged listening as a key reason they choose to work with one supplier versus another – it maximizes their productivity with you.
1. Make time to listen – listen more, speak less:
- Be actively involved & focused – it’s about them, not you;
- Be attentive & enthusiastic – enthusiasm shows in the expression on your face, in your posture, in your questions;
- Listen with an open mind – avoid prematurely judging what is being said;
- Listen for emotions and feelings – these are necessary ingredients for emotional connection.
2. Use your body language to communicate engagement – smile, maintain eye contact, lean forward, nod.
3. Ask for permission to take notes – communicate that your primary interest is listening; clarify notes after the customer has finished speaking.
4. Ask follow-up questions that restate what you heard, using your own words – “So ‘x’ is your most important issue at this time, right?”
5. Respect silences – get comfortable with lapses; don’t try to fill the gaps.
6. Be aware of interfering biases – age, gender, physical appearance and mannerisms influence your perception and can disrupt your active listening.
Active listeners secure actionable information, earn profitable orders and build enduring relationships.
How well do you use these active listening skills?
How could your team improve their active listening competency?
How Can You Best Engage Your People? Do They Know What You Expect of Them?