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The Power of Active Listening
It is a commonly known fact that when you listen intently to what someone is telling you, you are going to have a much more positive reaction when it is your turn to be heard. Unfortunately, salespeople seem to forget this all-important fact when they are attempting to convey the value of their product to their prospect.
Actively listening to your prospect not only increases the effectiveness of the interaction between you and your prospect, it also greatly increases your chance of making the sale. When you actively listen to the prospect, you are better able to understand that prospect's needs, and in turn, you are then even better able to express the ways in which your product or service can benefit the prospect.
There are ten tips that can help you to be a better active listener. If you pay attention and actively internalize these tips, then you are already on your way to improving your sales skills.
The first tip is to open your mind and ears. You should switch off all negative thoughts and feelings about the person and be receptive to the messages he or she is giving. Don't allow your opinion of that person to interfere with your chances of eventually closing the sale. Perhaps you find the manner in which the person dresses or speaks to be distasteful. Don't let your disdain show itself, because you may not get past the first few minutes of your conversation.
The next tip is to listen from the first sentence. You need to temporarily put aside or forget whatever it is that you're preoccupied with at the time of your interaction. If you do appear preoccupied, then your prospect will know it and will surely feel unimportant. Trust me, any prospect who feels unimportant to a salesperson will take his or her business elsewhere.
Analyze what is being said. Don't ever try to figure out what the prospect is going to say. You should pay attention to exactly what the prospect is saying at that given moment. Even the slowest listeners can think faster than the fastest talkers. Again, think only about what is being said at the given time.
Really listen, don't just not talk. This tip means that you should not only appear to be listening...you should actively assist the prospect in conveying his or her message. While your silence may cause you to appear to be listening, the prospect may begin to feel as if you are not truly listening if you do not give some sort of feedback to that which they're saying.
The fifth tip, never interrupt, but always be interruptible, is invaluable. Interrupting your prospect is not only rude, but is also very damaging to your chances of making the sale.
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Copyright 2003, Bill Brooks
Copyright © 2003, The Negotiator Magazine