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Susan knows how to make cold calls, follow up on leads and referrals, and provide excellent client service. Yet she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague Michael is. She puts much more time and effort into her work than it appears Michael does. She wonders what is missing in her approach.
The key difference between Michael’s and Susan’s approach is Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses the sales TRIUMPHS model to help him maximize his sales deals. The model works for virtually any product or service. Here are the components of your sales TRIUMPHS.
T: Treat your client with respect and value. Developing a rapport with the prospective client is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client is doing) and slightly lean toward the client, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cellphone is on silent, and you give undivided attention to the client.
Don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen. Don’t think you need to answer immediately. It’s OK to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses what you asked.”
Some prospective clients can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially with expensive products. Cutting off a speaker may prevent you from developing the rapport you need to cultivate with the client. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours.
R: Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before responding. The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully. The optimal way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard the client said before you comment. For example, “What I’m hearing is you are not certain our product will serve your needs.”
I: “I statements” are powerful. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the prospect is saying, use “I statements,” which are powerful. For example, “I am getting the feeling you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” Starting with “you” would be much more threatening for the buyer: “You don’t like this product?”
Understanding what the listener is saying doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with him or her. You are simply showing you are hearing the listeners unease. Example: “Fred, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a similar product. Let me get the information you need to make you feel better about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and his or her position before voicing your opinion.
U: Understand the needs and goals of your client. If you are genuine and sell quality products that can truly satisfy your client’s needs and desires, the client will trust you. That includes not selling the most expensive product even if you believe it is not right for the client. Nothing gains a client’s trust more than your being honest with him or her.
Next week I will share the remaining components of TRIUMPHS: Monitoring tone, probing for information, helping client feel safe and summarizing.
For more articles on active listening, see:
Dr. Jack Singer is a practicing psychologist and author who has been speaking to and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, financial advisors, sales staffs and athletes for more than 30 years. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX Sports and other radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.funspeaker.com.