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Successful Selling: Listening

18 Feb, 2001 By: Terrill Klett imageSource

Successful Selling: Listening

“Shut-up and listen” seemed to be about the only training we got after the age of five about listening. Now that the Digital Era has overloaded us with information, we have become too busy to listen. It may be costing you a lot of business!

Many years ago, General Electric purchasing agents had a meeting to determine the biggest reason for loss of sales. The outcome of this “investigation” showed that, by far, the number one factor that resulted in loss of sales concerned the art of listening. The listening skills of the sales force were simply lacking. Creation of mankind spoke loudly when we were given two ears and only one mouth – to remind us to listen twice as much as we talk. With changes in technology, we’re probably listening more, but only because we don’t know what we’re talking about as much as we used to. Listening skills can be improved with a little practice and patience, even when you know what you’re talking about!

Look back at your last few appointments and ask yourself if your ratio of listening was reversed. One strategy to show the customer you are listening is to repeat back the question or objection they have given you. This also will clarify what was said and give the customers a chance to change it or answer it themselves.

Why Would Listening Be So Difficult?

You would think that the odds of perfecting this skill would be 50-50—after all, we are either listening or talking. Most people can listen at a speed of 600 words per minute but can only speak at 125 to 150 words per minute.

It’s not all that easy, so practice the following suggestions to better your skills in this area:

1. Ask good questions. Did you ever notice that if you know how to ask a good question and then take time to listen for the response, you will never run out of good conversation? (Don’t hesitate to utilize the word “why?” if you aren’t able to generate a few questions.)

2. Concentrate on genuine concern, or caring—not just conversation. Listen with your eyes and heart.

3. Wait for your turn. Don’t interrupt.

4. Concentrate on what is being said, rather than thinking ahead to what you will contribute next.

It is also important to establish good listening skills in others (you want the customer to listen to you). Since customers are very important persons (VIPS), give them the VIPS listening treatment!

·Volume: express yourself using various volume levels in your voice.

·Inflection: emphasize key words.

·Pace: slow down/speed up.

·Silence: this will create some surprises, especially when coming from a salesperson. “Silence is Golden”—so be silent and bring home the gold!

Good listeners also make good friends. Good friends know other friends, who in turn may need to purchase precisely that product you are selling! Not only are good listeners popular everywhere, they also possess a wealth of knowledge because they have learned so much!

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