We can definitely all agree that listening is the communication skill we use most frequently.
We listen at a rate of 125-250 words per minute but think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute. But hands up if you have ever read an email while on a call to a customer? Or noticed your next appointment arrive ten minutes early, making you lose track and panic, forgetting all about the person right in front of you?
Most of us think that listening is a passive skill. As such, we feel an urge to jump in and tell our story, lead the conversation, and push the benefits of our products and services. But in reality, our minds are racing ahead and planning what to say in return. Of course, this means that you can miss important things that a customer is saying.
Make listening your superpower!
Ultimately, everyone can listen, but not everyone does. Your team and customers want to know that you’re listening to their thoughts, preferences and ideals, and if you simply take in the information without action, it doesn’t feel sincere or thoughtful.
Active listening is a skill that can be learned. The sales opportunity is not your time to show off all you know; it is the time to show your customer how much you care about helping them to find the home that they want to live in, therefore:
- Pay attention, obvious we know but it's the most important part of active listening
- Make eye contact with the customer talking to you
- Ignore other conversations, activity around you. Focus solely on what the customer is saying
- Resist the urge to start planning out what you're going to say in return
It’s important to try and break all your information up so that you can speak in headlines – giving a snippet of rich information without needing to go into detail. And summarise. Short summaries allow the customer to understand what you know about a topic, permitting the customer wanting more.
In many occasions, our customers don’t know what they need until we dig deeper and uncover what it is they truly want. Take a moment and think back to one of your sales conversations, did it turn out the way you wanted? Were you listening or were you just focusing on answering their questions?
By listening to what’s important to them you will be able to get it done right the first time and the more quality information you’ll receive.
Active listening is a skill that we would all benefit from using more often. It's a challenge to be a good listener. But good listeners get big rewards.