An ancient Chinese proverb reminds us “to listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well.”
While everyone can benefit from this sage advice, these words of wisdom are particularly appropriate for professional salespeople. Would you consider yourself a good listener? Perhaps a more important question might be: How would your customers, business associates, friends and family members rate your listening ability? Their feedback just might surprise you, because most people believe they’re much better listeners than they truly are.
Poor listeners frequently confuse the physical act of hearing with the emotional art of listening. While hearing is a function of biology, active listening skills must be acquired and developed. In the selling process, when you talk you merely provide information, but when you genuinely listen you show respect, create trust and develop rapport. Unfortunately, our educational system places emphasis on speaking and writing, but not on listening. The only way to become a better listener is to mindfully practice “active listening” in all of your daily encounters… from the kitchen table to the sales table.
Active listening is making a conscious effort to hear your customer’s words as well as to try and understand the total message being sent, both verbally and nonverbally. It requires you to listen not only with your ears, but also with your eyes. It’s important to monitor your customer’s body language and look for congruency between words, posture, movement and tone of voice.