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There’s a great strategy in communication that, I promise, will revolutionise the way you gain an understanding and rapport with a prospect. It’s something that I have to practice time and time again, as it doesn’t always come naturally in conversttion; but when it does, it works well and gives you that clarity that so many conversations lack.
The process is called Listen, Pause, Clarify, Validate, and it will simply skyrocket your communication quality and get you closer to your goals than anything else you can try in the sales process.
It flows like this; you really listen to the point the other person is making. Then, you ensure a slight pause to assimilate the meaning of what the person has said. Clarification questions ensure you are on the right lines. Finally, validation strokes the ego and allows you to format your next part of the conversation by earning the right to do so.
Listen: Respectful listening earns respect. Try to listen with the whole body, not just the ears. Make sure you don’t think ahead to answer the person, as you might miss a vital point…you can’t listen to the other person while you’re listening to yourself talking!
Pause: This ensures the person has finished their thought and it also stops you from risking interrupting the other, which can be rude and condescending.
Clarify: Having heard their view, there may be some points that are not 100% clear. Were they being too vague, too generalistic? Did what they say have a double meaning or were some of their words unclear? Could the meaning they gave be misconstrued?
This is the chance for you to determine the real meaning, their meaning. You could ask something like: “When you say you need to get this sorted ‘soon’, what sort of time are you talking about?”
Or “As you say, morale is important is any business. What have you seen in your team that makes you feel morale is so low?”
You’re clarifying the meaning so both you and they are singing from the same song sheet.
Finally, Validation: By validating someone’s position or opinion, you’re telling them they have a right to feel that way. In fact, if you were in the same situation, you’d feel that way too. It may suffice by saying something like, “Yes, many companies tell me the same kind of thing, and I can see it’s a concern of yours”.
You’re showing the other person you are in harmony with them, yours is a listening ear, and you’d like to work with them in going forward and solving it.
So, try the four stages in your next prospect call. Listen fully to a point they make, allow a slight pause by not interrupting or butting in (it gives you a chance to consider what’s been said), clarify any points that aren’t that clear to you so there’s no misunderstanding, then show them you understand (not necessarily agree) with their point by validating how they must feel.
You may find it builds good rapport and helps you to achieve a deeper understanding of their current position and future needs.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)