Why Active Listeners Make BIG MONEY in Sales and Leadership!
(And how you can easily model what they do)
I was recently involved in a conversation that really wasn’t much of a conversation at all. Allow me to explain.
An eager sales professional found me online and asked for a few minutes of my time. He’d just changed company affiliations—a new gig—and was considering a personal coaching program. I began by asking him for a brief overview of where he was currently at and what he wanted to accomplish. I added that he should ask any questions about the personal coaching process and told him that I also had a few questions for him.
30 minutes went by and he hadn’t asked me one question, other than, “Are you getting all this?”
Our allotted time was over and aside from the fact that he asked ZERO questions, he hadn’t stop talking long enough for me to ask him any! This example of diarrhea of the mouth may sound extreme, but, with regard to salespeople, this problem is more common than you think.
My recommendation to the person I referenced above, was that before he embarks on an in-depth personal coaching program—with me or anybody else—he should take a good look at his basic communication style and how he’s being perceived by prospects, peers and his direct reports. If a supposed professional salesperson runs off at the mouth for 30-minutes without taking a breath, they need to get that problem fixed first.
As you know, I’ve been at this game for 37 years. I’ve had the luxury of being able to observe the absolute best of the best. One of the BIG things ALL high-income earners practice is:
Bottom line…if you’re NOT an active listener, you’ll never sell or lead at the highest levels. Oh, you may make a nice living, but you’ll never become wealthy. It is disastrous to treat communication as a one-way street. When you meet with people, you must give them the opportunity to express what’s important to them. If you regularly have the last word in conversations, then, you’re not an active listener. If they feel like their voice isn’t being heard and understood, they won’t buy from you or they won’t follow you.
The good news is that it isn’t difficult to become a great active listener if you are open and willing to do a little work. Here are nine proven methods that top sales professionals use, and ones you can begin to employ immediately to improve your results:
- Be PRESENT
When someone is talking to you, stop everything else and listen fully. Don’t do anything else…don’t multi-task. When someone is in front of you, sit as close to them as possible so you can focus on them and stay in the present. Your behavior will make it clear to them that you want to hear what they’re saying.
- Ask GREAT questions
Have an inventory of great questions at the ready for each situation you are regularly in—a selling or leadership scenario. You don’t have to ask too many questions—rapid fire. That isn’t a good thing. Just ask a few really great questions and then relax, let them talk and LISTEN to what they have to say.
- Spend more time LISTENING than talking
I refer to this as the 80/20-conversation method. What I mean is that you should allow them to talk 80% of the time and you only talk 20% of the time. This is a great rule. If you find that your conversations are the inverse of this, then change that immediately and watch your results change for the better.
- Never INTERRUPT them
When you interrupt them you are doing two things that aren’t conducive to a positive outcome. First, you are sending a message to them that their voice and their points aren’t important. Secondly, you’re disrupting the natural flow of the conversation, which may cause them to disengage—which is the last thing you want a person to do in a conversation, especially when you’re trying to sell them something or influence them as a leader.
- Avoid finishing THEIR sentences
Talk about annoying! There’s nothing that says, “I’m smarter than you,” or, “Your voice is less important than mine,” than by doing something stupid like this.
- Think about what you’re going to say next AFTER they’ve finished
Some people have the bad habit of trying to jump ahead in the conversation. They hear only part of what someone is saying, and then they tune out that person and begin thinking about what they might say or ask next. This is a dangerous practice because you’ll miss a lot and you may not be taking the conversation in the right direction. It’s okay to have a moment of dead air while you process what they said. It actually demonstrates to them that what they said has importance and that you actually heard it.
- Don’t answer their question with a QUESTION
Answering their question with a question is a handy technique if you want to diminish your prospect or the person you are trying to lead. This annoying habit will only make the person you’re talking to feel smaller. Some people think this technique is really clever, but it’s not. It simply makes you sound like a smart-ass.
- Listen with a THIRD EAR
Listening isn’t just about hearing their words; it’s also about listening to the tone, speed, and volume of their voice. Train yourself to use your THIRD EAR to look for the hidden messages below the surface of the conversation. This type of listening will allow you pick up on the clues they may be dropping. Those clues will help you sell them or connect with them.
- REFRAME what the other person said
A useful conversational approach is to feed back to them what they just said to you. It can sound like this, “So you’re most concerned about employee retention, right?” There are two reasons that you would use this technique. First, you can use this technique when you want to let a need or opportunity—one you know you can help them with—sink in. When they hear what they said and then confirm it, the opportunity becomes more concrete in their mind. You can also use this technique when you’re not 100% sure of their statement and you want to clarify what you think you heard.
If you are struggling in this area, just choose a couple of these methods to work on at first. If you try to take on more than you can handle, you’re not going to see as much progress as you would if you narrowed your focus. Once you become effective in one or two particular strategies, then you can take on another one or two.
Again, bottom line, an engaging and enlightened communication style is critical if you want to make a ton of money in a sales or leadership position. The pros are active listeners. They have this wired. I want you to model what they do.
I also want you to model the other critical practices they employ and we have recently launched a very unique program that’s yielding great value to those that have found it and begun to apply the strategies.
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Here’s a page that’ll help you understand this platform:
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at: http://www.CAPequation.com