“We have 2 ears and one mouth and we should use them in this ratio.”
Active listening is listening to understand rather than hearing to reply. In other words, active listening is making a conscious effort to hear and understand the speaker’s message.
Remember, we communicate our message via Words, Voice and Body Language. To Actively listen we need to be aware of all three components of our customer’s message. You need to observe and interpret their Voice and Body Language as well as hear their Words.
The greatest compliment you can give a person is to give him your undivided attention. Active listening shows the speaker that you are interested in, value and care about what they are saying and that you want to understand the point that they are trying to make. To do this you need to concentrate on the speaker and what he or she is saying rather than preparing your response.
Contrary to the popular belief, a salesperson should listen twice as much as we speak. You never learn anything by talking, only by questioning and listening.
Why is Active Listening important?
When a sales advisor actively listens, both parties benefit:
- Active listening assists in building a better rapport with your prospects.
- The client feels heard, respected and valued
- Objection’s from the customers’ end become softer when advisors focus on solving the customer’s problems rather than his own need to make a sale.
- The prospect has greater trust that the solution sold to them will truly address their concern.
- It saves time for the advisor by helping them understand if there is a true “fit” between the solution offered and what the prospect really needs.
How to improve Active Listening?
Here’s a list of certain tips and tricks to ensure that you are actively listening:
- Always remember your objective. Actively Listen and try to identify a central theme in the conversation.
- Listen for ideas and concepts, not just facts.
- Receive the whole message by observing the customer’s Body Language, Words and Voice.
- Take notes. But don’t take too many notes. Selective notes will help you remember key points.
- Ask questions. Use Open questions and Pause for the other person to answer.
- Limit your talking. You can’t talk and listen at the same time.
- Do not interrupt. It’s rude! Interrupting says, “what I have to say is more important than what you have to say.” Don’t finish the other person’s sentence.
- Use Verbal Nods. Use “go on,” “uh huh,” “I understand,” and “I see” to show the speaker you are still with them but don’t overdo it or interrupt with meaningless comments.
- Avoid using “yes” as this can stop the speaker’s flow because they think that you are giving an answer instead of acknowledging you are listening.
- Summarise, confirm and clarify. Ask Reflective questions to confirm understanding and make short statements. If you don’t understand something or feel you have missed a point, clear it up immediately or it may embarrass you later.
- Prepare in advance. Whenever possible, prepare a list of remarks and questions ahead of time so you can free your mind from listening. Preparation also includes being physically prepared. Get enough sleep, ensure that hunger won’t distract you, etc.
- Keep an open mind and your emotions in check. Remember to react to ideas, not the person. Don’t allow irritation or emotive or silly words to distract you. Become more aware of your own biases and prejudices – don’t let them show.
- Do not assume. You need to ensure that you avoid jumping to conclusions and assuming you know what is going to be said next.
- Maintain Open Body Language and Look interested. Maintain eye contact, smile and lean forward.
- Practice listening. Make your conversations with your friends, and your family for improving listening skills.
- Do not be biased. Always stay calm, and do not show a bias against the speaker’s accent, habits, tone, and appearance.
All these points, if followed correctly, will definitely help you achieve your aim of actively listening to your clients. To reach this goal without any difficulties, you need to make sure that you have eliminated all the barriers to listening.