At One of a Kind Sales, we spend a LOT of time training our people to ACTIVELY LISTEN. Picking up the phone and dialing MAY get you to the right person but active listening is the real secret to setting qualified appointments and sales success!
Can you hear me?
A basic Cold Calling requirement is being able to HEAR the prospect. That means setting yourself up so there is no background noise or music to distract you and having a headset with adequate volume controls. Close all your extraneous browser windows and shut off your personal phone so you are not tempted to check email, texts or social media.
It’s not just hearing them…
ACTIVE listening involves more than just HEARING what your prospect is saying. It means UNDERSTANDING what is being said, and oftentimes, being able to hear and understand the UNSPOKEN context. Actively listening will enable you to ‘hear’ the prospect’s body language through the tone, volume and words they are using. It means noticing shifts in that tone or changes in the volume and then modulating your own tone and words in response.
Active listening involves paying attention to what is said and using the prospect’s responses to formulate your own statements.
Active listening tactics
We recommend a number of tactics to do this:
- Paraphrasing – which is where you restate some of the prospects replies but in your own words.
- Summarizing – where you provide a summary of the process or discussion to give an overview and context.
- Clarification – where you restate and/or explain things to make sure you are all on the same page. ASK for clarification on a point or statement to keep the prospect talking about their issues.
- Reflection – where you reflect the prospect’s words back to them to help them understand what you are hearing.
Note that ALL of the above require you to have HEARD not just the prospect’s words but the intentions behind those words. Pay attention, listen carefully and you will be rewarded with valuable insights and you will, more importantly, earn their trust! They can tell when you are listening and will appreciate that you have HEARD them.
Because we know that ACTIVE LISTENING is such an important skill, we have collected many useful resources on this topic. Here are a few articles and videos we think can help YOU improve YOUR active listening skills:
- An excellent Sandler Training Podcast where they not only explain quite clearly WHY this is necessary and HOW to do it but they also point out that these skills are valuable both in sales AND in your personal life!
- A comprehensive post, including stats and more discussion on the tactics noted above.
- A 2011 TED Talk with 5 exercises to improve your listening skills, some interesting insights on how we listen in the 21st century and how to listen more consciously.
- A lighthearted video using Olympic style scoring to ‘judge’ animated face to face communication styles.