Listening … finish the PROCESS!

Communication SkillsSteven Covey says that “Most people do no listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”

Here is another well-known saying: “We have two ears and one mouth and should use them in the same proportions.”

There’s a lot of truth in both of these sayings and never more so than when someone disagrees with a position that you have taken or raises an objections during the sales process.

It is important to remember that when a buyer or customer raises objections, they are not complaining, but are asking you for help.

A common mistake that all of us have made at one time or another is that we know where someone is going with an objection or counterpoint before the person has even finished speaking. The natural human temptation is to begin formulating an answer to a question that hasn’t yet been asked. The problem is that while you are busy putting together an answer in your head, you are no longer fully listening.

Now, you risk losing your connection with your audience or prospect. People can tell when they are not being listened to! And, if you jump the gun and assume you fully understand what the question or objection is before clarifying anything with them, you risk even more. In a selling situation, if you assume you understand what is troubling a buyer based on one small objection and hurry to respond to what they have (barely) said, you could very likely create new and bigger problems.

Here’s what could happen: The buyer or outreach target starts to mention an objection. You may feel as though you have heard that particular remark a thousand times before and are tempted to cut them off with what you believe is the pertinent information they need to alleviate their worries.

But, you could be wrong… because you don’t actually know what their worries really are… because you didn’t finish listening! So, by trying to solve a problem that you don’t fully understand, you may inadvertently plant the seed for more concerns and objections.

The way to avoid this trap is to cut yourself off, internally, when you are tempted to rush in. Instead, ask your buyer or outreach target a question like “Would you tell me more about that?” when they raise an objection or issue. Everyone, everywhere likes to be listened to and will respond positively to anyone who makes an effort to understand their concerns in depth vs. assuming they have all the answers.

People aren’t generally making things up when they raise objections. They have reasons for their concerns that are unique to them and it is our professional responsibility to understand where they are coming from. Encourage your audience to tell you more so that you can finish listening.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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