Early in my sales career, one of my customers said “I will give you $100 cash if you can repeat back what I just said”
no I couldn’t do it… not even close! I had taken a momentary mental vacation.
It is interesting that as I do training classes on communication ~ everyone in the room has done some some work on public speaking ~ many have taken writing classes ~ yet in all the years I’ve been training only a handful have taken any classes on LISTENING! and 2 of that handful were music majors in college.
Here are a couple buyer complaints to give you an idea why listening is so important:
- … they go on and on with their pitch and they don’t even bother to listen to what I say…
- People don’t like to listen and they think they know more about your job than you do…
In fact last year Bob Hayward phoned 600 companies and found salespeople do two main things that annoy prospects: talking too much and not asking sufficient or any questions.
I would take that a step further – if you ask questions but don’t listen to the answer, the prospects become even more annoyed!
The Bad News,
- Improving your listening skills takes lots of effort (it pays off of course, but down the road).
- It is easier to fall back into old habits than it is to sustain change
I know you’re not shocked or surprised by either statement – please keep in mind that you have to want to change AND believe that the pain of the change is worth the reward you’ll reap.
3 Things To Do,
- Avoid Distractions
- Listen Beyond The Words
- Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
If you are like most telesales people, you work in the ‘gray cubes of love’, yup offices without walls where everyone is talking on the phone!
A world of easy distractions. You are the only one who can avoid them – but keep a few things in mind:
- just because a new email message popped into your inbox DOESN’T mean you have to scan it! option 1: turn off the pop up preview pane (or pain perhaps), option 2: for two, one hour increments each day turn your email off completelysafety tip: for those of you who just said “but what if something URGENT comes in while my email is turned off, I can’t do that!”, my experience shows that if a prospect or customer REALLY NEEDS something ~ they’ll pick up the phone & call you
- get your immediate neighbors to all do some dialing at the same time, then you aren’t distracted by their chit chat ~ you’re all trying to listen to the prospects and customers you’re calling.
- if you’re going to check online for information that might help the person on the call with you ~ tell them what you’re doing! That will let them know you’re paying attentionif you’re not able to tell them…. you probably aren’t surfing to benefit them SO CUT IT OUT.
Listen Beyond The Words
No matter who’s statistics you read about what goes into communication ~ at best 10% of your message is the actual words you use.
Ok so in telesales, what the heck else do you have?
- manner (formal/informal, rushed/relaxed, etc)
- background (people talking, rustle of paper, keyboard tapping)
I also believe you can hear body language as our voices change when we lean back in our chair, stand up, scrunch our forehead while we’re thinking, or even roll our eyes in frustration.
You can tell a lot about your prospects and customers by starting your listening exercises by what their outbound voicemail message says & sounds like!
Admit it, you are usually surfing the net waiting for the beep NOT listening. Plus my experience shows you can also gain valuable information like alternate contacts and cell numbers, but I digress!
- how often do they change their message?
- what can you learn about their personality?
- are they formal or informal?
- how busy do they sound, just from this short message?
Now tailor your message to their style, which brings us to tip 3 ~
Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
Do you know your own learning style? Is your preference:
- seeing someone do it first or reading how-to books (visual)
- would you rather have someone explain it to you (auditory)
- do you often say “just let me try” (kinesthetic)
Now that you have identified your own style, start listening for theirs. Then pick the words that will make it easier for them to understand your message PLUS you will learn what they may need to make a decision.
Visual: “I see what you mean”, “show me”, “watch how I do…” Make sure you have pictures, charts, graphs for them to look at while you’re presenting.
Auditory: “I hear you”, “tell me”, “listen to me while I…” Your explanation of how your product will solve their problem is what will sell them.
Kinesthetic: “I know how you feel”, “let me try”, “you have a go” Allowing them to play with a sample, evaluate your product, and try it out will move the process along.
The key to effective prospecting is to capture their attention and have a comfortable conversation about how doing business together might help them. That is really true if they are an existing customer as well!
it is YOUR responsibility to make THEM comfortable
If you’re not listening… they’re not comfortable ~ trust me, I’ve been called out on it.