The telephone has one major drawback when it comes to selling: you can’t see your client.
This makes communicating somewhat more challenging. For example, with face to face selling, body language constitutes about 55% of the message. What this means to those of us who use the phone is that we MUST be a better listener. In effect, you need to overcompensate to pick up the nuances and details of the calls you make. Using the acronym SPECIAL here are 7steps to improving your listening skills
1. Stop – When you make or take a call, stop whatever you are doing and give 100% of your attention to that call. Stop overlapping. Stop toying with your computer. Stop finishing up that last proposal or quote. Turn your head away from the everyday distractions in the office and focus on the call. Period.
2. Prepare – Be prepared for the call. Complete a pre call planning sheet before you pick up the phone so you know precisely what you want to achieve and how. In particular, list key question that you want to ask. This simple step will help you listen more careful because you won’t be thinking “What do I ask, say or do next?”
3. Evaluate – On the phone clients communicate on two levels: the words they use and the tone they apply. In fact, on the phone tone accounts for about 84% of the message content. Listen and evaluate for interest (buying signals), listen for doubt or uncertainty (objection), listen for confusion or disinterest (pauses).
4. Concentrate – Actively listen. This means when you ask a question, zip it. Let the client answer. Let him elaborate. Don’t interrupt. Listen for the key points that he is making. Avoid the temptation of preparing your rebuttal in your mind. Avoid the temptation of developing your next question instead of hearing the answer that is being given.
5. Investigate – Interactively listen. This means asking questions AFTER you’ve heard the answer. Use questions to clarify, verify and confirm information. If you are not certain of something, ask about.
6. Acknowledge – One of the best ways to listen is to summarize what you’ve heard and repeat it back to the client. “So Greg, if I understood correctly your company is …” If you’ve got something wrong the client will tell you. If you are on track they’ll confirm it. Either way YOU look good and you’ll sell more.
7. Log it – Put another way: listen with a pen in hand. Take notes. Jot things down as you ‘actively’ listen so that you can go back and clarify. Note taking seems to be a lost art. Use a pad of paper or better yet, your pre-call planning sheet to record key point.
Listening is not that difficult if you follow these seven steps. And if you listen well, you’ll sell well. So just do it!