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Communication SkillsSelling Skills

Listening Skills and the Chicago Daily Herald

Lisa Miner, Chicago Daily Herald book reviewer, heralds How To Say It To Sell It with this review, published, January 22. The stuff in quotations is where I said it, and Ms. Miner adds her commentary. I like it. I like my stuff better. (But did I mention how grateful I am to have been reviewed so quickly?!)
“Whether you’re selling products and services to a customer, or pitching an idea to your boss, knowing when to listen, when to talk and what to say are the keys to hearing ‘Yes’.”

The best advice I got when I was in sales was: “You have two ears and one mouth. That means you should listen twice as much as you talk.” With that in mind, the author lists five steps to effective listening:

1. “Look for points of agreement.” You have to find common ground and weave them in when the time is right.

2. “If your customer disagrees with you, don’t be quick to prove him wrong.” Ask questions about the real reason behind the objection. Once you know it, then:

3. “Respond by talking about how much you agree.” Starting with “You’re right” or “Yes” again establishes common ground.

4. “If you can’t agree, think about what the prospect wants to know.” Their negative responses may mean that they don’t know what they don’t know. Focus your response on solving their problems.

5. “Determine the next step.” Once you have a prospect thinking you can provide solutions, you need to ask about their next step in the process.

The book puts the five in context with the various prospect personalities you’ll encounter.

From SpeakerSue: Listening for commonality – the points you and the other person agree upon – enables a less defensive and more productive conversation – and it works at home as much as it does at work. If your teenager, for example, thinks you’re the meanest mother in town, you might begin your response with what you both agree on: “You’re right, to you I am the meanest mother in town.” Continue, using the word, and, telling him what you need … “and I also love you and that’s why your curfew is midnight, regardless of what your friends are doing.” Of course, you’ll get pushback. You’re likely to hear, “you don’t love me.” Your response? Don’t disagree. If you do, you compound the issue by invalidating what he is feeling. Instead (because you heard nothing you can agree with) ignore the comment and return to agreement, “I may be mean and I’ll see you at midnight.

Try it! You have everything to gain (and, yes, I’ve been there!). Herald the good news!

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