An Entrepreneur’s Journal (Day 11): Tips For Listening Well

An Entrepreneur’s Journal (Day 11): Tips For Listening Well
Selling Is Not Telling. Selling Is Listening With Sincerity & Providing Solutions For Problems.

By Serial Entrepreneur, Co-Founder / Marketing Director of Fears & Clark Tulsa Commercial Real Estate & U.S. SBA Entrepreneur of the Year – Clay Clark

 As we head into the final Monday before Christmas I am preparing to teach our sales teams some important tips and skills related to listening more effectively. As it relates to sales, sales is really nothing more than building rapport, discovering needs, delivering nuanced benefits backed by facts and calling to action. However none of this is possible if the sales person cannot build rapport with the client initially. And building rapport is not possible if one is not trained properly on how to listen effectively. I was first taught these listening skills by my boss (at the time) Shane Harwell. Overtime I listened to numerous sales trainings by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar and a host of other sales gurus so the tips I am outlining below come from a variety of sources. However, the common denominator behind all of the information and listening skill development information listed below is that it works. So without any further delay, here are the 10 Tips For Listening Well in route to building OUTSTANDING RAPPORT with each and every prospect you speak with:
1) Make being a good listener a priority – Everyone I know is not naturally a great listener. I know that I certainly was not. In order to become a good listener you must become intentional about becoming a good listener. Just like someone on a diet must be intentional about what they eat, you must become intentional about listening intently.
2) Get into your “adult” posture – Plant your feet firmly on the ground, have open arms, have a writing device in your hand, stay alert and make yourself become genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. You must make the person who is speaking feel as though you are hanging on their every word.
3) Focus your attention and limit your distractions – Turn off your cell phone. Yes, I said it. Turn off your cell phone. Stop receiving texts from your friends and family and focus. Get off of Facebook and focus. If meeting with a client at a restaurant, make sure that you are facing a background that is not distracting for you. If the client feels that you are the least bit distracted it is very off-putting.
4) Visualize the prospect as a person who needs your help – It is absolutely crucial that you listen to the prospect speak. It is important that you empathize with their concerns. Think about when the last time was that you actually talked with a friend or family member that truly empathized. For most people it is very tough to find someone who truly empathizes with them. To empathize means that you must listen to the person in a way that lets them know you are clearly looking at things from their perspective.
5) Keep and open mind – It is vital that you keep your mind open to new ideas. If you take a sincere interest in the person, and you truly hang on their every word it is going to be nearly impossible to prevent them from feeling special, and that is our goal. As they speak they might say something that you initially do not agree with. Keep an open mind, you might actually learn something new from this person. I always look for something new that I can learn from every prospect that I talk with. It takes the monotony out of each presentation, it builds friendships, it builds trust and it closes deals.
6) Listen to content – You must listen to the content that is being said, not how it is being said. If the person sounds like they grew up in a portable outhouse as part of the traveling circus you must not judge them based on this. If the person sounds like they were raised with a silver spoon in their hand, you must not judge them based on this. You must judge them based on what they tell you however. If you do not do this, you might prematurely blow up big deals just because of your natural bias to a certain accent, etc…
7) DO NOT INTERRUPT (EVER)! – It is very important that you do not fill in people’s sentences. For me this is the toughest part. Because I talk and listen all day for a living I tend to think that things and phrases just flow off of people’s tongues, but for most people this is not the case. Most people are talking with you about the unique problem that your service solves for the first time in a long-time if ever. For them discussing things related to your product and services is new. For them the things that they are discovering with you could be REVOLUTIONARY. Allow them to speak. Do not rush them through the presentation by cutting them off, or they will reject your attempts to close the deal.
8) Use listening affirmation words and phrases to let your prospect know that you are listening – It is SUPER CRAZY IMPORTANT THAT YOUR PROSPECT FEELS AS THOUGH YOU ARE STILL LISTENING TO THEIR WORDS. To allow the prospect to know that you are listening you must say things like, “OK,” “Really,” “Tell Me,” “Wow, that’s interesting,” ‘That’s Fascinating,” and “I understand.” If you do not let the prospect know that you are still listening they will assume that you are not.
9) Take notes on their answers, their personality and their interests – As Dale Carnegie correctly articulated in his revolutionary book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, “People’s favorite topic is themselves.” When your prospects meet with you, they should feel special. They should feel important after talking with you. They should feel as though they have connected with a long-lost friend when they meet you. They should feel as though they have finally connected with a human that listens to them. Most people do not have people around them that genuinely listen to them, thus you are going to fill a large gap in their lives if you listen correctly. Thus, do not be the idiot sales person who constantly has to guess at what was said during the past conversation. Always take detailed notes. Sales people who can remember all the nuances to every conversation are obviously not seeing enough prospects.
10) Verify what was said – It is critical that you repeat what the prospect has just told you. You must verify their phone number, their e-mail address, their goals, their interests and their conversation. Writing down something incorrectly could kill the sale by killing rapport. Imagine that you just told your prospect you would email them by 10:00 AM in the morning and then you have accidentally recorded their e-mail address incorrectly. The prospect thus believes that you did not follow through on your small committment. Thus, they have lost trust in you. Are they then going to be more or less likely to spend money with your firm. Spending money with you is doing nothing more than displaying their belief that you can deliver with your problem solving solutions.

By Co-Founder / Marketing Director of Fears & Clark Tulsa Commercial Real Estate & U.S. SBA Entrepreneur of the Year – Clay Clark
  For more information about Clay Clark, His Various Business Ventures, Employment Opportunities, Recommend Books, the
Tulsa Mastermind, the Tulsa Future Young Millionaires, Clay Clark’s Motivational Speaking or Tulsa Commercial Real Estate call Fears & Clark Tulsa Commercial Real Estate Group today at 918-481-2080.

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