Good salespeople are thoughtful, actively engaged listeners.
You don’t talk people into buying, you listen them into buying. The less you talk, the more they talk. The more they talk, the more you learn about them. The more you learn about them, the easier they are to close.
You learn a lot more with your ears open than you do with your mouth open. J. P. McAvoy says, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
Listen well enough and long enough and most of your prospective customers will you exactly what they intend to buy and how to close them.
Good listeners create a positive response in others. Poor listeners upset people, make problems worse, and create resentment.
Becoming a good listener will improve every aspect of your life, from dealing with customers, to communicating with co-workers, to your inter-personal relationships with your friends and family.
It’s important to pay a sincere compliment to every customer on every call. One of the best compliments you can pay anyone is simply to listen to them.
There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening means paying attention and making a conscious effort to process what you hear.
It takes effort:
The ability to listen well is a skill that must be developed and practiced. It is one of our most important skills and it is also one of the most overlooked.
Listening is not a passive activity. It takes a concerted effort to listen well.
Communication consists of four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Of those four, listening is the most difficult to master. We were given two ears and one mouth because it’s twice as hard to listen as it is to talk.
Listening consists of more than just keeping your mouth shut while you’re thinking of what you want to say next.
Steven R. Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
You can’t think and listen at the same time, so thinking about your opinions on what’s being said, instead of concentrating on what is actually being said, will interfere with your ability to listen well.
To be a good listener you must clear your mind of all thoughts and opinions while the other person is speaking. After they’re done speaking, allow there to be about two seconds of silence before speaking.
Deciding what people are going to say and starting to compose your response before they finish speaking is undoubtedly what’s happening when people complain that we didn’t exactly answer the question they asked.
Tips to improve listening skills:
- Make a conscious effort to listen
- Try to understand the other person's point of view, even if you disagree with it
- Listen for the speaker's important points
- Try to understand the speaker's feelings
- Clear your mind of all thoughts and opinions while the other person is speaking
- Listen with an open mind. You don’t have to agree. You just have to listen
- Listen even if the other person is not interesting
- Listen even if what the other person is saying is erroneous
- Listen even if you don’t like what the other person is saying
- Look directly at the person speaking
- Be patient and let the other person complete their sentences
- Ask questions to be sure you understand the speaker
- Do not allow distractions to bother you.
I remember showing up to fix a woman’s air conditioning. She met me at the front door and immediately started walking around to the side of the house, explaining her problem as we walked along. Once we arrived at the condenser, I pulled out my 5/16” nut-driver and began removing the access panel.
I suddenly realized she’d stopped talking mid-sentence. I continued working and said, “Go on. I’m listening.”
It immediately hit me that I should never have to tell anyone, much less a customer, that I’m listening. It should be obvious that I'm listening, shouldn’t it?
I could have repeated back what she said to me word-for-word, but I didn’t look like I was listening.
I’ll admit that prior to my learning about the concept of being an active listener, I offended a few customers.
You have to do more than just listen. You have to make sure people know you’re listening
Ideally, an active listener:
- Is doing nothing other than standing facing the person speaking, with hands folded lightly in front of you
- Is making eye contact
- When the other person is done speaking, paraphrases what they just heard.
You have to differentiate yourself from your competition. Sure, the shoe covers and professional forms help, but they’re becoming somewhat commonplace. What you can’t find just anywhere is a good listener. Be a good listener and you’ll stand out from the crowd in an important and memorable way.
CHARLIE GREER is the creator of "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales," "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Who Answers the Phone?" For information on Charlie's audio/visual sales training, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or call 1-800-963-HVAC. Email Charlie at [email protected]