In my opinion, one of the biggest skills of being able to sell well is developing your listening skills. Most sales companies and sales people talk about being consultative but they don't really know what consulting is! No-one can consult if they cannot listen first. You cannot sit around a table with your fellow sales people and decide what consulting services you are going to offer to a client - it doesn't work like that. Yes, you need a clear picture of what your services are but consulting services require you to listen to the client.
Now I guess most people think they can listen well, don't you! Wrong! 90% of people have appalling listening skills and even those who know how to listen don't a lot of the time. Think about it! When you are in a conversation and someone is saying something to be able to understand it you are constantly translating their words into your own experiences and your own words. Its the way our brains are wired - you make sense of other peoples' words by interpreting them into what you think they mean!!!
How many times have you been in a conversation and before the other person has finished you ard thinkng, "I know what he/she means here, I can sort this out." And the first thing out of your mouth is, "I know what you mean exactly, its just like when I......" Get it?
So here are 10 Levels of Listening. Read through them carefully and think about where you are on the scale. Your will probably be at different levels at different times and in differing circumstanced dependant upon your mood, the environment, how stressed you are, how interested you are etc etc. Note your level and try to remember to concentrate on moving up the levels.
Warning: Trying this is not easy - it breaks most of what we know and the benefits when you have done it will not just be in your business life. Your partner or your mother might just say to you, "You know I think you really understand me!" Got it now!
LEVELS OF LISTENING
Which level of listening are you at?
1. Not there physically (You didn't show up!)
2. There physically, but not mentally. (Not paying attention at all)
3. Hearing the speaker but doing something else at the same time (such as watching elsewhere, reading, or thinking about a different matter.)
4. Interrupting speaker early and frequently.
5. Interrupting speaker later and less often.
6. Allowing speaker to finish, but meanwhile intensely thinking of a counter argument or response.
7. Allowing speaker to finish while earnestly trying to understand what is being said, and then replying immediately.
8. Allowing speaker to finish, pausing, thoughtfully considering what has been said, and then replying.
9. Allowing speaker to finish, pausing, summarising what you think you heard, and only then replying.
10. Allowing speaker to finish, summarising what you've heard, and then honing in on 'limiting beliefs'(e.g. I must/should/ought to, I can't), unuseful assumptions and generalisations' (e.g. People are....., women can't... nothing ever....), and unuseful connections (e.g. I'm too old, I won't get another job)
Enjoy working with your listening skills!
Watch out for a further listening skills article coming soon...
For the last 10 years, Gavin Ingham has been helping sales people to explode their sales performance by turning self-doubt, fear and lack of motivation into self-belief, confidence and action. With his inspirational approach to sales performance and motivation Gavin combines commercial experience, personal excellence and communications technologies in delivering personal and business sales success.
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