One of the keys to great sales, and great leadership, is the quality of the relationships you build with others – prospective clients, co-workers, partners, employees. How do you build these relationships? What if you only have a few minutes to make an impression?
Listening to people when they speak goes a long way in forging a bond. I know we all think we are listening when we are having a conversation, but are you really?
Here are some tips for being an effective listener
- Pay attention – don’t be formulating a response or thinking about what you will say next.
- Get rid of “I know” – I know shuts down a conversation
- Don’t use the words “no”, “but”, or “however” – these are terms of disagreement
- Ask intelligent questions that let the other person know you have been paying attention and give them the opportunity to talk more while you listen.
- Don’t be distracted – you should be looking at them, not around the room.
Active listening is a learned art and one that would be well worth your time to practice. It can be exhausting to pay close attention all day and most of us are not paying as much attention as we think we are.
Here is an easy example that you can try right away. One of my current talents is my ability to remember people’s names. People ask me all the time to share my secret for remembering names. The truth is when I first got into coaching, I knew that I was not very good at remembering names and thought this was something I should develop. I looked within myself to find the answer and concluded that I wasn’t really paying attention when people introduced themselves. I decided I would pay attention when people were being introduced or introducing themselves. From that day forward, I became very good at remembering names.
Try this yourself. The next time you are out, decide to pay attention and then watch how many new names you remember.
Be open to what people are saying and don’t block them out just because you don’t agree with what they are saying. You might learn something.
Ask questions and let the other person know you are listening to them. Ask to clarify points you are not clear about. Restate facts you want to confirm. These are all keys to clear communication. You may be surprised by what you hear when you really listen.
This is one of the greatest secrets to successful leadership and successful sales. The best listeners have the best results. When you pay attention to others, you will be able to present the best solution for them and be way ahead of your competition.