Are You Listening?

There’s an old saying that we have two ears and only one mouth for a very good reason.  We should listen twice as much as we talk.  Like most old sayings there are exceptions but, for the most part, it’s true.  Listening seems to be a lost art.

When we’re in a conversation are we listening to what the other person is saying or are we planning what we’re going to say when they finally shut up?  I’m afraid that salespeople are especially guilty of this.  We’re concentrating so hard on our selling message that sometimes we actually miss signals from the prospect that say "I’ll take it."  Have you ever sold something and then bought it back because you talked right past the ideal closing moment?  I know I have.

Listening is a skill that can be learned.  All it really takes is practice.  Most of us live in a world of constant noise.  We’re bombarded by television, radio, iPods, streamed audio on the internet, and the ever-present cell phone.  There are very few places where we can go for real peace and quiet, so our mind begins to ignore the background noise which can cause us to become immune to what may be important aural cues.  In our business, for example, our customers and employees may be giving us clues to what’s on their minds.  If we’re not actively listening, we could miss them. 

Here’s a suggestion. Set aside some time each day to just listen to what’s going on around you.  What are your customers saying?  What product benefits are they asking for?  What is your staff saying?   Are they  giving the customers the right information?  Are they selling effectively or could you coach them in some new techniques?  Time spent improving your listening skills could be time well spent.

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