Customer Experience News & Trends

The No. 1 question you must be able to answer for customers

Benefits of good listening

There are several benefits to listening that can never be gained by talking:

  • It builds trust. The best salespeople are good listeners who seem concerned with customer needs and help them purchase the products or services in a cost-effective way.
  • It lowers resistance. It reduces tension and defensiveness on the part of customers who realize they aren’t going to be pushed into making a purchase through force of words.
  • It builds self-esteem for customers. It’s flattering for a customer to know that a salesperson is listening intently to what’s being said. It’s also good business for the salesperson.

Listening is not hearing

Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is passive. It’s what people do when a bore starts talking. Listening is an active activity in which salespeople pay genuine attention to what customers or prospects say.

It’s a skill that needs constant development. When salespeople listen more, what they hear sounds less repetitious and more meaningful.

Here are 10 approaches that may help promote active listening:

  1. Interact. Active listening is not a silent activity. Show that you’re tracking with customers by giving them short verbal feedback phrases like “I see” or “Go on.” Nod your head. Use body language to show the customer you’re interested in what’s being said.
  2. Don’t interrupt. Ideally, the only time you should break up the customer’s conversation stream is if you need clarification on what’s being said.
  3. Avoid distractions. Focus your attention on the prospect or customer. Communication is best in a calm, relaxed atmosphere.
  4. Paraphrase. Repeat in your own words one or more points the customer makes. Paraphrasing lets the customer know that you’re listening. It shows the prospect that you have a clear understanding of what’s being said.
  5. Restate. Repeat verbatim all or part of what a customer has said, while placing emphasis on one part of it. The main purpose of restating is to get prospects to give you more information. Additional information can be the difference in making a sale or not.
  6. Ask questions when something’s unclear. When forming your questions, put what you think the customer said in your own words. If you understand correctly, the customer will agree. If not, he or she will have a chance to clarify.
  7. Summarize. Active listening involves mentally summarizing points that have been made. Try to state these brief summaries at key moments in your presentations. Summarizing also lets you take charge of the direction of the conversation.
  8. Avoid arguing. A good listener is there to find out what the customer thinks and where she or he is coming from. If the customer wants to hear your opinion, he or she will ask. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to remain silent, especially if a customer is venting.
  9. Don’t be afraid of silence. It gives you time to think about what the other person is saying. Silence is a natural part of listening and not a space to be filled as quickly as possible with meaningless conversation. It’s a good idea to use this test: Will what you have to say improve on the silence?
  10. Remember the golden rule of listening. The rule is: It’s possible to say too much. It’s rarely possible to listen too much.

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