Back in the 1930’s, a book about “people skills” became an instant success when it hit the shelves. It was simply called, “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. You might have heard of it!
In it, Dale describes in very simple terms how to improve one’s relationships. He says things like, “A person’s name is the sweetest sound in the world to them,” and “Everyone wants to be heard.”
Why is this important for sales? Because at the end of the day, sales success comes down to fostering a genuine connection with other people. It’s relationship building, finding needs, and then genuinely helping to meet those needs.
And that takes a bit of people skills! What is one of the most important skills one needs in order to connect with people? The ability to listen – and to do it well.
So when you’re talking to a prospect, how can you learn what their needs are? It seems simple enough right? You just ask!
But here is the part where most people tend to struggle: After asking, listen.
Don’t listen trying to respond. Listen to understand – there is a big difference.
Have you ever talked with someone that simply would not stop jabbering away? Where you find yourself simply hoping that they will take a long enough breath to let you get a couple words in? And even if you do, you’re immediately shut down in favor of the other person’s “important thought?”
We’ve all been there, and very few of us would wish to return!
Listening to understand is a rare skill today, so here are a few tips to keep in mind as you’re improving your listening skills:
- Be intentional about your body language. You’ll find that, as you lean forward to listen, that you find it easier to pay attention to the person that is talking. Body language also communicates to the other person that you are paying attention.
- Make eye contact. Acknowledging someone through comfortable and genuine eye contact communicates to your prospect that they have your full attention!
- Ask questions. You can pay someone no greater compliment than to genuinely inquire something about them.
- Be silent. Ask a question, and then do not fill the silence that follows. They say that most people can only handle 5 seconds of silence before they get uncomfortable and feel the need to fill the void. But don’t. Just wait.
This silence is a tremendous gift to your client because you are communicating that you are allowing them to seriously consider their thought before answering. This silence tells them that they matter!
On my last podcast, I interviewed Ray Anderson, a successful business leader for the past 30 years. His business is all about teaching people how to be good leaders and how to foster effective relationships between leaders and staff, thereby strengthening an organization. He’s a master at networking, relationships, connectivity, and leadership.
He talked on the show about the power of listening. This is something we can all be reminded of from time to time! He says “Everyone is flattered when you talk about them. It makes them want to reciprocate.”
As a master of teaching people how to be successful, Ray’s podcast episode is not to be missed! Check it out here!