Highly effective listening skills

While someone is speaking with you, do you sometimes find yourself thinking about a job or task that is near deadline, a family matter or even about the weather?  In the middle of a conversation do you often ask yourself if you’ve heard a single word the person has said?

Did you know that we listen at 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1000-3000 words per minute (HighGain, Inc.)  When you’re thinking faster than a person is speaking, it’s very easy to lose what is being said and for the mind to wander.

What do talking and listening have in common with regards to sales or business ?  The ironic thing is that most people do too much talking and not enough listening.  A great speaker once said to me; if you listen 70% of the time and ask great questions the other 30% of the time, your sales will double.  Be in a constant state of curiosity and be in the moment.

In order to create the level of relationship and experience that highly successful salespeople possess, you must listen to your prospect.  This does not mean just hearing the words that are said but actively searching for meaning expressed in their tonality and body language.   Research indicates that only 10% of our communication is words.

Steps to Highly Effective Listening used by top performing sales and business people:

1. Give your customer every chance to fully express themselves. Avoid interrupting with the temptation to talk about yourself and your product.

2. Ask if you can take notes. It will help you focus on what the customer is saying. It will show your clients you are truly paying attention to their needs and care about their situation.

3. Reconfirm what your client has said by paraphrasing and asking for confirmation. This is termed “active listening” and allows for your client to feel heard and important thus increasing rapport and leading you closer to the sale.

4. Provide non-verbal confirmation that you are listening. Eye contact with the client as they speak is significant in encouraging them to continue sharing their needs, thoughts and criteria.

5. Listen with your eyes. Take note of the customer’s body language. Facial expressions and body position can be an obvious indicator of a client’s interest in what you are saying.

6. Recap the most important points at the conclusion of your meeting. Make sure you are walking away with the most  relevant points.

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