Whatever we sell and in whatever industry we are working in communication is key. Critical to selling is active listening and it’s much more than just simply hearing.
We all have a set of filters built in that impact on how we understand what another person has said. So deciding to listen and listening without thinking about your next question or waiting for a gap in the conversation to fill is absolutely key.
Here are five simple ideas and tips on how to improve your listening.
1. Try using the “rapid repeat” technique
With the rapid repeat technique, as somebody is giving you a message you play it back in your own head, don’t say it back out loud, that will make you look odd! Just play the message back in your head.
The way the brain is structured, and the average rate that people speak, you’ll be able to process information around about 5-6 times faster than somebody speaks. Which means there’s plenty of time for the message to come in, for you to play it back in your mind and for you to continue listening.
2. Remove your assumptions
It’s very easy when you hear people speak to make your own assumptions about what they are saying. We often run an exercise when we give a group of delegates a word; for example “trunk” then ask “what is the first thing that springs to mind”. As you can imagine we get a real assortment of answers. The key is to remove your filters and view of the world and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember it’s our job to understand what the customer wants not their job to explain in detail. Which leads nicely onto tip number three.
3. Seek clarification
If you are unsure about what the customer is saying or meaning, seek clarification. Isn’t it a much better conversation if you ask questions that show you are listening by saying “when you say this what do you mean exactly? Am I understanding you correctly?” A much better way to build credibility with your customer.
4. Don’t jump in with a solution
When in your meeting, if you hear an initial requirement, don’t leap in with a solution, continue to listen the customer may reveal lots more valuable information. Providing you have positioned it at the start of the meeting it’s ok to make notes. Write down what they actually say and the words they use, this will prove invaluable when formulating your reply.
5. Watch this excellent TEDTalks video on improving your listening by video from Julian Treasure
The key to listening is to choose to listen and actively listen.