We don’t tend to think of listening as a Power Activity because in and of itself, it has historically been a reactionary behavior rather than a proactive one. Now is the time to change that! When you are conversing with a client, prospect, superior or even a family member, clarity of communication is very important. Being a skilled listener is not only a respectful activity, it will improve your efficiency in dealing with others and help you build trust that is so important in key relationships.
Here are 6 tips to help you become a Power Listener:
Vow to concentrate on what the other person is saying. Give them eye contact, take notes when appropriate, and remember that first and foremost that we listen for context and understanding.
Seek clarity to assure that effective communications has taken place. To do this, at appropriate times ask concise questions to verify your understanding of their transmission. Probe for detail when appropriate and you will gain enhanced understanding.
Repeat key ideas as you seek their confirmation that clear communications has taken place. Restate some of their thoughts and conclusions so that you can take communications to the next level. As you extrapolate their thoughts into advanced understanding they will be impressed with your skills and pleased with your action-oriented spirit.
Confirm what you will do going forward in response to their ideas. They will respect your action-oriented approach to dealing with them.
Perform the promised function or actions with timeliness and expertise and you will be in the minority of great communicators.
Check back to confirm that your actions have been taken, the results so far, and their expectations going forward, and your next steps will be clear, and the person will respect your proactivity.
Remember that when we poorly communicate, communications doesn’t fully take place. Be a Power Listener and miscommunications will not ever hamper your life again!
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The first issue with asking prospective clients questions is: Do YOU have the inclination to do so? Many people go right into a discussion of their capabilities or products, their company, etc. without enough “discovery” taking place. I like the adage that anyone who goes into a presentation without performing some needs-analysis first is NOT a professional!
The next question for us to consider is: Are we asking good questions that are relevant? Gone are the days when we asked customers “Do you need anything today?” The more creative and in-depth the question, the more elaborative and in-depth the answer. Here are a couple of categorical examples of what we might ask today:
Competitive Leverage Questions: “In your annual review meeting with your existing vendor, did they put new ideas on the table for performance improvement or cutting edge solutions to your problems?”
Front-loaded Open-ended Questions: “In light of your industries improvement trends, how do you plan to alter your inventory counts?
Pain-Point Questions: “You mentioned in our last visit that the quality of product components had become a major issue for your company. Have mandates from upper management come through for fixing these problems as yet?”
Close-Ended Questions: “When do you anticipate that a decision will be made on the proposal we have on the table with you?”
Questions on Complex Issues: “I understand there are four people in your decision loop – Do you have specific suggestions as to how I might be able to ask them some needs analysis questions as well?”
Become a student of asking really good questions, and your performance will soar!
What happens when your longtime customer says they want you to cut your price? Forget that you’ve been servicing the account for years! Management has demanded that all departments cut costs, and a new competitor is angling for your business.
When you know how to sell value, price issues become less important to making the sale when you know what it really takes to be a deal maker without cutting into your profits!
I was peacefully sitting in the den of my home on the Mississippi River this morning, sipping coffee and enjoying the morning paper, when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something meandering down river. It was the Delta Queen!
This old wooden paddle wheeler was mothballed a few years ago due to being a safety hazard, but I read recently where the owners got special clearance to transport it to New Orleans to be completely refurbished. I was thrilled to read that the old girl was being saved. It was in rough condition when I saw it this morning and being pushed by a tug and accompanying barge with parts, etc.