Normally we consider there are three goals in the art of being able to talk with each other:
The first is pure and simple, one talks for the pleasure of expressing themselves and interacting with other people.
The second goal is to get to know better the person in front of us. In sales and in any business, we need to expose ourselves longer to the other person in order to understand how the other person thinks, feels or reacts.
The third goal is to build credibility between the two parties involved in the sales process.
This is perhaps one of the most important things we need to learn in order to become better salespeople.
If this is important when we talk about personal relationships, it’s even more important when we talk about sales, where a business relationship that serves the interests of the two parties is critical.
If you think about it, will someone buy from someone they don’t trust?
Many people think that the art of talking boils down to speaking in an interesting and passionate way, so that we are noticed by our humour, our ability to tell stories or our knowledge of different subjects.
It’s normal to think that if you want to become better conversationalists, you must improve your capacity for expression or articulation of subjects.
In our view, it’s nothing like this.
As we have heard so many times, we have come to this world with two “ears” and only one “mouth”.
Does this tell us that we should listen twice as much as we speak?
Of course it does!
When you’re having a conversation, it’s more important to listen carefully than to talk in an elaborate or passionate way about a product.
Psychologically, it’s also the best way to show your customer how important they are. By actively listening, you are strengthening your relationship and at the same time the customer feels that you think they are important.
The art of talking to each other focuses largely on your ability to ask questions and listen carefully to your customer’s answers.
You can put your ideas and personal opinions into a conversation, but to speak well you have to ask well elaborated questions that allow you to direct the flow of the conversation wherever you want and at the same time give your customer the opportunity to express themselves.
You must ask open questions (which can’t be answered with yes or no) that encourage the customer to express their opinions and comment on the subject matter.
You can put open questions almost in an endless way; that will allow you to find out what the customer thinks about the subject matter.
Anyone who aspires to be an excellent talker must resist above all the will to master the conversation.
The best conversationalists are usually calm, easy-going, have good humour, and are genuinely interested in the person they are talking to.
These are people who are content to listen and contribute to the conversation without monopolizing it and without breaking the flow of conversation.
Listening is in fact one of the most important features in selling.
If you think of many of the salespeople you know, are they good listeners?
Let’s now talk about the 4 basic rules for active listening.
These rules work in any situation, whether they are in conversation with a customer, colleague, boss, family member or friend. These are practical and psychologically tested techniques that increase the influence on the other person in an exponential way.
The first rule to actively listen is to listen carefully without interruption. When you pay attention to a person, you are communicating to them, in a subconscious way, that you value what they’re saying.
The biggest reason most people are poor listeners is that while they are listening they are simultaneously preparing the answer or the next sentence they’re going to say. They resemble two boxers waiting for the other person to lower their guard, so they can jump forward with the response they have been preparing and take over the conversation again.
Listening carefully requires that you slightly lean towards the other person and listen carefully to each word. It’s necessary to listen as if there’s nothing more fascinating in the world than what the other person is saying.
The best talkers develop the ability to make the other person feel special, as if they were the only person in the world. Good talkers can even do this in a room full of people.
Additionally you should also show that you’re listening through body signals, nodding, smiling and agreeing with what the customer is saying. You have to be active rather than passive. It’s necessary to show that you’re totally absorbed in the conversation.
You should also establish eye contact with your customer. Only each of us, personally, will be able to know whether or not we have done this. However, for the customer the overall impression is that you have all of your energy focused on them and what they are saying.
The second rule you must adopt is to pause before answering. The pause shall be small, between three and five seconds. When you pause before answering you accomplish three goals simultaneously.
First, you avoid the risk of interrupting the customer if they’re just catching their breath before continuing.
Second, you’re showing the customer that you’re giving the utmost consideration to what they’re saying because of not jumping back into the conversation at the first opportunity.
Third, by taking the breaks, you get the benefit of being able to hear the customer better.
Their words will be absorbed more easily into your mind and you will be able to understand more clearly what they are telling you.
The breaks are in fact the differentiating factor of any great conversationalist. If you don’t believe it, choose a person with whom you enjoy talking and check “in loco” if this really happens.
The third rule to actively listen is to use questions to clarify what the customer is transmitting.
You should never assume that you understand at first what the customer is telling you. Instead, you should seek to clarify your understanding of the issue.
For example, you might ask: “If I may ask, and this is just for us to be in sync, what do you mean exactly?”. This is one of the most powerful questions you can use to control a conversation. It’s almost impossible not to answer this question.
When you ask “What do you mean …?”, the customer almost always tends to respond by adding other information that is sometimes precious to you during the sales process.
The fourth rule is to paraphrase your customer’s words, using your own words. For example: “Let me see if I have understood your problem correctly. What you’re telling me is that… “. By paraphrasing your customer, you unequivocally demonstrate that you’re paying attention and that you have a correct understanding of their problem.
The reason why “listening” is such a powerful sales tool is that listening develops trust. The more you listen, the more the customer will trust and believe you. It has been psychologically proven that by listening we are even increasing the self-esteem of the other person in a natural and subconscious way.
Finally, listening compels you to develop your internal discipline in selling.
Our mind processes 500 to 600 words per minute, however you can only speak about 150 words per minute.
Because of this, listening actively and being totally focused on the other person and what they’re saying is absolutely strenuous.
If we do not practise this listening discipline, our mind will wander a hundred different directions at the same time during the sales process.
Therefore, in every opportunity you have, you should practice. Don’t forget: As far as talking is concerned… “Practice makes perfect”!