If so, you are practicing a bad habit.
The most productive listeners don't listen for facts – they listen for ideas.
Listen to understand a customer’s ideas
But when a listener focuses on the broader areas of the communication, the supporting facts tend to fall into the framework of the ideas presented. You will remember facts more easily because you understand them as necessary parts of the whole and you see how they combine to create a framework.
For most of us, memorizing all the facts as they are spoken is impossible. While we are trying to pin down one fact, the next fact flies right past us.
If you are a note taker, you probably jot down facts and figures. This is great. It frees up your mind to concentrate on the bigger picture. But it helps to include general statements, ideas, in your notes. When you attend a lecture, you have time during pauses and recaps to summarize such main points. But when you are in a sales situation, you don’t have this luxury.
During a sales call, where you play an active role, you will probably have to wait until later to complete your notes. I advise you to write them down as soon as possible. Studies have shown that we forget one-half to one-third of what we hear within eight hours.
Listen to understand a customer’s experience
If you are unclear about statistics or dimensions or dates, they can be verified with the customer or other source via email for absolute certainty. But, if you misconstrue your customer’s major point, you’re lost and so is your sale.
Listen to understand a customer’s hopes and challenges
We take time to listen for the big ideas – the future that a client imagines for the business and what kind of buyer might best carry it forward. We encourage discussion of challenges that an owner faces – these challenges might be seen as opportunities for a buyer with the right skills.
We listen intently to client stories for themes and events that light up their eyes, or bring an “if only” shake of the head. In these messages, we discover aspects of the business that will shine with potential for the new owner.
Do you have listening strategies that work well in your business? Please use the comments form below to share your successful approaches to listening to your customers.