03/02/2016 - 13:36

Don’t make me say it again

03/02/2016 - 13:36

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Attentive listening is a key component in the salesperson’s armoury; so why do so many of us tune out?

Don’t make me say it again
UMM: Most salespeople won’t acknowledge that listening is the weakest part of their toolkit. Photo: iStockphoto/mediaphotos

Attentive listening is a key component in the salesperson’s armoury; so why do so many of us tune out?

“I didn't hear you.”

No, you weren’t listening.

“Our people need to listen better.”

No, your people need to understand why they don’t listen.

People stop paying attention for one reason or another, and then blame it on the person talking. Two rudes don’t make a right.

How do you listen? That’s both a question and an enigma. Listening is one of the big three in selling – the other two are asking (engaging), and being friendly.

Most salespeople will admit that listening is their weakest quality. In part due to impatience, but mostly because they don’t know how. Or even deeper, they don’t know the components or factors that make up the ‘why’ of listening.

To complicate the listening process even further, there are ‘manners’ in which people listen – attitude and mood manners. These manners can affect the listening competence level by more than half.

There are 3.5 opposite sets of manners of listening.

1. Active or passive.
2. Positive or negative.
3. Open or closed.
3.5 Distracted by other business or personal matters, or not distracted.

You can almost get the feeling and meaning of these manners without me explaining them.

Listening is also broken down into elements, each representing a ‘why’. I have added some additional description to clarify each element, and defined a few.

The good elements of listening

• Listen with the intent to understand – a sermon, a movie, in a classroom.
• Listen with the intent to take action – someone giving instructions.
• Listen with the intent to learn – a teacher, a trainer, a seminar leader.
• Listen with the intent to enjoy – music, sounds of nature, a crackling fire.
• Listen with the intent to remember – driving directions, a website address, a phone number.

Who you’re listening to can have a huge impact on the quality of your listening – your mother, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your best friend, your favourite celebrity, someone you like, or someone you dislike can affect the outcome of your listening ability. It’s their words, your mood, and your level of respect that make up the listening effectiveness model.

The bad elements of listening

• Listen with the intent to respond – this is where interruptions occur. You have something to say, or think you already know the answer. You start responding before the other person has finished talking. You must learn to listen with the intent to understand; then you can respond with the full knowledge of what has been communicated. Simply ask the person if they have finished their thought before you respond.
• Listen with the intent to figure out an angle (manipulate) – interacting with a customer during a selling situation.
• Listen because you have to obey (or try to worm out of it) – parents, teachers, and bosses top the list.
• Listen because you are forced to – your boss, teacher, or parents yelling or disciplining you.
• Listen with the intent not to pay attention – tuned out because of your unhappiness or ill feeling towards the person speaking.
• Listen with the intent to argue – whenever you’re in an argument or fight, listening is overpowered by anger and negativity.
• Pretending to listen’ but in another world – you have other things on your mind that are more powerful than what is being said, so you tune out whoever is speaking.

Telltale signs of not listening? Asking people to repeat, getting instructions wrong, making mistakes on the job, getting rejected.

The three best states to be in when listening are the state of calm, the state of happy, and the state of willing; these are ear-opening states.

I know all of you are looking for the silver bullet that will make you an instant better listener. I’ve got it for you. Two words – take notes. When you take notes, you show respect, always hear, and have a reference to help you remember what was said or promised.

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development. © 2016 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


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