Written by Sean McPheat |
We have spoken many times about the key skills required to become an expert salesperson, and we always keep coming back to the specific skill of being able to listen effectively.
Listening is a skill in that it can be learned, developed and improved. Here are some ideas that will help you keep developing this essential addition to your armoury:
– Practice listening skills: Yes, the more you practice, the better you will become. It’s not something you will ever become perfect at – your brain is set up to continually ‘self-talk’ so when you are talking to yourself, you obstruct the ability to listen effectively. Spend time listening in to conversations and practice closely listening to the meaning behind what people are saying, rather than getting ready to jump in with what you want to say.
– Keep an open, curious mind: This is a great skill to develop. It stops you being judgemental and allows you to open up the conversation because you’re more interested in what the other person is thinking and feeling rather than what you are wanting to say and do
– Link what you listen to with what you already know: This helps you build your knowledge and determine connections between what was said and what you know already. That will help you see how these connections could be built up further and also turn you into an interesting conversationalist as you share ideas that are linked up.
– Resist external distractions: Noises, other conversations and such-like are often key distractions that might interfere with your ability to pay attention to what someone is saying. You need to focus and concentrate so these extraneous distractions are placed into the background rather than brought to your conscious attention. If distractions become too much, see if you can move locations or pick up the conversation at another time.
– Ask questions to clarify understanding: People will delete and generalise information because they are reciting from their own perspective and from their own opinionated ideas. Recognise that they may not see things like you do. It doesn’t mean they are wrong; it just means they see things differently. Listen to understand before being making yourself understood.
– Summarise often: It’s good to stop off now and again in a conversation to summarise your understanding of what has been said so far. It stops you from misunderstandings and allows you to backtrack if necessary and ensure you have a complete understanding of what has been said by the client so far.
– Analyse non-verbal signals: Remember that people say more with their subconscious body language than they do with their conscious words. Watch out for mannerisms, eye-contact, specific gestures and other signals that may not be in sync with their overall message. Ask questions that determine the real meaning behind what they may be saying
– They listen to content and emotion: many people will hear the content but miss the emotions that drive the content. In conversations, the emotions may actually mean more than what is being said, so listen out to the signals that may mean the person has hidden agendas or has more concerns than they are letting on.
As you can see, listening is a skill that you will never perfect, and if you keep practicing you may find you get to know more than you had perceived before.
With our sales skills training you will work through various exercises to really hone your listening skills. Listening is easier said than done. You really have to tune in and concentrate on what is being said and probably more importantly, what is not being said!
Originally published: 15 October, 2014