Taking People Literally
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For many years I have been teaching my 16-year-old daughter to "pay attention." This involves a good set of listening skills. Pay attention to exactly what they are saying...literally. Don't be trying to read between the lines and make them say something they didn't say.
One of the best courses I have ever taken is by Brian Battles... "How To Listen Powerfully!" Combine that with Dale Carnegie's book, "How To Win Friends & Influence People" and apply the principles and it is life-changing. I gave a copy of Dales' book to my oldest child when she was in her 20's. I later asked her about the book, and she told me she quit reading halfway through. When I asked why, she said, "Dad, you raised me on these principles, I didn't need to finish it." Up until that moment, I didn't realize just how much that book had influenced me.
How do you apply this to sales? Listen, ask questions, shut up and listen some more. The person asking questions is in control of the conversation. When possible, answer a question with a question. Oh, btw...listening doesn't mean to be thinking about what you are going to say WHILE they are talking, it means to just be quiet and pay total attention to what they are telling you. What you need to say will come to you when it's your turn to talk. One exception...if they are long-winded, you may need to take a few notes as reminders of what to say when they finish. I doubted that principle from Brian Battles' course until I started to practice it. It really worked.
One other thing...pay attention to body language. If they tell you yes while shaking their head no, this could be a red flag. Ask more questions. If they start squirming and seem uncomfortable and start crossing their arms, another red flag. Listen carefully to their body language, in many cases, it will tell you more than their words. You may need to adjust your approach, maybe even take a step backward and build more rapport.