Many new ideas on selling techniques have come and gone over the last thirty years, but one technique that has always been around and still requires great skill to perform consistently to a high standard is listening.
We have all heard the buzz phrase “two ears, one mouth, use in the same proportion” but sadly many agents seem to forget that mantra and get it the wrong way round. “The gift of the gab” should have died out long ago but some agents still seem to rely on it to get them through the day.
The genius observation by Stephen R Covey that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” is one which a good many agents should take on board.
But how can you learn to become a better listener?
The first lesson is to recognise that listening is not a passive activity. There is also a degree of confusion between hearing and listening. Research suggests that people listen to only 30% of what they hear.
Effective active listening requires hearing, understanding and interpreting. The best listeners give their undivided attention to the “speaker” and think of questions that can be asked in order to clarify understanding.
Using acknowledgement techniques like eye contact, smiling, nodding or saying “I see” as you listen confirm that you are paying attention.
Summarising and paraphrasing what has been said confirms your interest in the speaker and helps understanding.
A quick checklist on improving the standard of your listening would include:
Resist the urge to interrupt
Don’t be distracted by other events around you
Avoid allowing your mind to formulate what you want to say next
Allow people who are less articulate time to say what they want to say
Encourage the speaker – nods, smiles etc
Summarise what you think you have heard
Adopt the tips above and your listening will improve. As a result, you will understand your customers far better, while they will enjoy speaking to you and may well disclose more than they intended. Good luck!