As sales people we know that we need to listen to prospects, but how good are we? Do you need to Listen Better?
One of the best tips I ever heard (lol) on listening better, was that most people are not actually listening, rather they are waiting for the other person to finish, so that they can then speak. No wonder some psychologists say that during conversations, 94 pecent of the time people are thinking about themselves! Becoming conscious of this ‘waiting’ helped me to see how bad at listening I was, which then improved my listening more than anything else.
The second best listening skill that I have seen successful sales people using, is repeating back a summary of what has been said. This shows that you have listened, that you understand and it allows the speaker time to reflect and build on what they have said. This is great for opening up a prospect as they feel they can trust you, and reflection allows deeper and more considered discovery which builds trust and insight.
A very accessible resource that has helped me to listen better is the TED talk by Julian Treasure. Here’s a summary of the actions he suggested, of which I found no.3 the most useful for sales people:
1. silence. Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get absolute silence, go for quiet, that’s absolutely fine.
2. The mixer. (Noise) So even if you’re in a noisy environment like in a coffee bar, how many channels of sound could you hear? How many individual channels in that mix could you pick out? You can the same exercise in a beautiful place as well, like at a lake. How many birds are you hearing? Where are they? Where are those ripples? It’s a great exercise for improving the quality of your listening.
3. The acronym RASA. You can use this framework to improve your general listening skills. It’s an acronym called RASA, which is the Sanskrit word for juice or essence. RASA in this instance stands for Receive, which means pay attention to the person; Appreciate, making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”; summarize, the word “so” is very important in communication; and Ask, ask questions afterwards.
See the whole TED talk
Conclusion. Just focusing on ‘not waiting’ will help you become conscious of potentially your biggest listening skills gap. If you can repeat back, or summarise what the person is saying, it will take your listening to a higher level. Using the exercises suggested by Julian Treasure will turn you into a truly accomplished listener.
Article by Alistair McQuade