What is it about listening that makes it so hard? Is it because we think that what we have to say is so much more interesting than what the other person has to say? Perhaps. Except for making you look a little self centered, it’s not likely to be much of an issue when you’re talking to your partner or a friend or the barista at the coffee shop. But it is the death knell when you’re in business and talking to a client.
We all know from experience that, without a doubt, we learn more when we listen than when we speak. That is why it extremely important to listen when meeting and interacting with a client. The more you learn about your clients, the better you can serve them, the more likely they are to stay with you and recommend you to friends – as good a reason as any to zip it and pay attention.
We started by saying that listening is hard, and that’s true, but it is an acquired skill — so how does one learn to listen?
You can start by practicing with family or friends. Make a concerted effort not to say anything during an entire conversation. Leave your input to the end and when asked to contribute, simply ask a question that will encourage the other person to talk more – something like, “How did that happen?” or “So what happened after that?” or “Why do you think that happened?”
Work hard to really listen to what is being said and who is saying it – to absorb their point of view, to understand what it says about them. Show interest by looking at the speaker with an expression that says “tell me more”.
While the person you are engaged with may not actually be aware that you are “actively listening” – you can bet that they will feel heard. They are likely to say thigs like, “good talking with you”, or, “thanks for listening”, or “it’s great catching up”. And that is just when we are practicing with family and friends.
In the same way when you actively listen to clients you will soon notice that they tell you all kinds of things they might not otherwise because they feel comfortable and not rushed.
The 3 must haves for listening are the following:
- Awareness ahead of time (conscious behaviors and discipline) – make a plan to listen
- Incentive while you’re doing it (learn information you didn’t know) – think of everything you learn as a benefit to you both
- Reward afterwards (ability to personalize the link to your offer) – remember and use everything you learn
How good a listener are you? Are you losing business because you lack listening skills?
For more information visit us at www.strategymarketing.ca