In his highly-rated article about marketing yourself, my friend Joe Hage (http://budurl.com/First3) asks, "What's your point of difference?" I have an idea. What if your point of difference was your acute ability to listen?
Yes, I recognize listening alone may not set you apart from the competition. But among service providers, you may win more business using your ears and eyes than with any other marketing strategy. That's because, with listening, you can understand your prospect, and that understanding wins business. I've lived it.
The Art of Listening
With all the sales training offered out there, the most often overlooked and simplest to execute is the "art of listening." Listening carefully attracts more clients and closes more sales than talking constantly about anything to do with you or the service you offer.
Unfortunately, the typical sales person always has something more to say and a difficult time closing the mouth. With practice, it's possible ... I know.
The following can improve your listening skills:
- Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Use your eyes and ears to show interest in your discussions with prospects. While listening carefully, your eyes can detect body language that can communicate information about what the person is saying and thinking.
- Don't "overpower" prospects. You will meet prospects that you know you can win over with your intelligence, charisma, and confidence. If you treat these prospects with condescension because you know immediately they are within your grasp you will overpower and lose them. To truly listen to a timid or meek prospect, make the prospect feel vital, happy, and comfortable.
- Don't argue with prospects. If a prospect makes a statement that you strongly disagree with, do not get into an argument. Diplomatically and respectfully discuss your opinion. Your sincere respect for his or her point of view will build admiration and loyalty. Your purpose is to encourage your prospect to speak freely and opening… making you a friend and confidant.
- Never knock the competition. Remember that your prospects might be good listeners too. If you speak negatively about others, prospects may be uncomfortable giving you information about themselves. Avoid attacking others to raise your status. This tactic only makes you look petty, lacking in confidence in your own skills, and will most certainly backfire.
- Listen more than you talk. A sales call should be a dialogue -- with your prospect talking more than you. Listen to every requirement, objection, and make note of as much personal information as possible. The only time you should monopolize the discussion is when you're sure you have what they are looking for… and even that discussion should involve questions and answers from the prospect.
As you can see, listening does not simply mean keeping your mouth shut. The true value in listening is what you learn, in addition to making your prospect feel like they are being "heard."
Listen, interpret, and display understanding. Concentrate on your prospect's tone, inflection, body language, and breathing. With these clues, you'll better understand the prospect, the needs, the wants, and how you can satisfy that need.