Learn to Listen… Then Speak
In many cases what customers need is someone who will listen to their needs rather than someone who will tell them what they ought to do or buy. The old familiar verse poses a very real question; it says:
A wise old owl
Sat up in an oak
The more he saw
The less he spoke,
The less he spoke
The more he heard,
Why can’t we be like that wise old bird?
Listening is a learned skill. If you are like most people, the experts say that you listen at only about 25% efficiency. The good news is that listening is a skill that can be improved. As salespeople, you must realize the crucial role listening plays in the communication process. You spend 80% of your waking hours communicating, reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Of that time, about on-half is spent listening. Many people, however, rarely even think about the listening process. If you are sincere at breaking poor listening habits, and develop a more effective listening skills, try the following for good measure.
1. Proper Attitude
The effective listener adopts the attitude that he/she always has something new to learn. Good listeners are open to the new and different. They adopt the attitude of the witness, when asked:
Bailiff: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Witness: Look, if I knew the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth– I would be God.
2. Don’t Jump To Conclusions
Assuming (and you know what that does) that you know what a person means, without giving him/her a chance to explain, can lead to severe communication problems. Effective listeners refrain from jumping to conclusions. They withhold judgment and action until they clearly understand the other person’s point of view.
3. Listen For What The Words Mean
One of the biggest concerns to teaching people to listen is convincing them that the same words can mean different things to different people. We are a diverse nation with multiple ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and languages. Let me illustrate: A few days before the start of his freshman year, a foreign exchange college student toured the campus with his new advisor. After a pleasant day, his host bade the student farewell with a smile and a hearty, “see you later”. At 4:00 a.m. the exchange student was still awake, afraid to go to bed for fear of insulting his advisor who had promised to return. Meanings of words vary slightly from person to person. But how do you know what a person means by a word? Do not assume. Be clear to what is being said.
4. Ask Questions
Many people have difficulty asking questions for many reasons such as insecurity, fear of appearing stupid, intimidation, or for fear of offending the speaker. The best advice is to ask for clarification through gentle probing in order to avoid any misconception and/or misunderstanding. Here is where many salespeople fail at closing a sale.
5. Avoid Becoming Defensive
Good listeners concentrate solely on the information given, and they work to prevent their relationship with others from contaminating the listening process. A discussion, a dialogue, a discourse can become an argument if the salesperson becomes defensive to an objection raised .Listening is a skill that can be improved. It is worth the effort. It can mean the difference between understanding and confusion, efficiency and waste, growth and stagnation.
IT IS ONE THING TO HEAR WHAT IS BEING SAID. IT IS QUITE ANOTHER THING TO LISTEN.