Listening is one of the most deceiving skills in business, or in life for that matter. Ask anyone how effective they are at “listening” and most will say they are pretty good. Yet in reality many “miscommunications” and unneeded conflicts occur just because we fail to practice good listening skills. This is rather evident in sales and marketing interactions.
Salespeople are taught that the client should do most of the talking and they should “listen.” Yet if we were to observe salespeople in action with their clients, as I have, we would see that the very opposite is true. They carry-on about the benefits of their product, service or company and often burn themselves out on their own “pitch.”I am not without guilt. I have stopped myself too many times in the middle of a great rant. Being a radio show host for over a decade as well as an instructor and public speaker it’s no wonder that I could ever shut-up! Nevertheless I have found that the “info-download” method of selling and marketing is less effective than ever before.Neil Rackham of the Huthwaite Organization and author of Spin Selling, conducted extensive research on the selling behaviors of high performers in sales. What he found through his research was that high performing sales people did three things differently in their meetings from those people who were not effective.High performing sales people:
1. Asked a lot more questions
2. Allowed the client to do most of the talking
3. Waited much longer before jumping in with a solutionUse the one minute tool (inspired by Robin Ryan’s excellent book, 60 Seconds & You’re Hired): if you have more to say than you can say in a minute, limit yourself to one minute and use that time to give an overview of the most important points you would make if you talked longer. Then stop and ask your listener to help you decide what to prioritize and how much more detail to go into. For each point and sub-point you add, start by speaking for just one minute, asking for more feedback as you go on to clarify which issues you need to address, and taking a moment before speaking to focus what you will say.This is also true in marketing. Often times web sites, brochures, and even mailers and promotional material is focused on “selling.” Think of ways that you can “engage” the user. Make your marketing material interactive. While we can’t practice the same types of listening techniques in second party marketing material, we can “listen” by making our material highly interactive. Ask for their response, advice, suggestions. Often time these materials are more like info downloads rather than engaging conversations.Listening is a skill that impacts every area of our life. I urge you to think of ways that you can “listen louder” to your clients, prospects and those within your sphere of influence. There is no better way to practice attraction than to master the art of listening.Please call or e-mail me with any comments or questions.This article was written by Mark Deo. You can reach me at 310-320-8190.