The More You Listen the More You Realize What You Have to Say is Irrelevant
If good food needs an empty stomach, then good listening habits need an empty and clear mind. That is why your experience of listening will diminish in proportion to your need to interpret and control what you hear.
The key is to listen and try to minimize as much as possible judgment and evaluation. So it should not be any surprise that the more you need to make a sale, the less likely you are to listen intently without judgment and evaluation. The highest form of listening then is not the interpretation of what is being said by your customer, rather the natural acceptance.
Carl Rogers, the father of client-centered therapy wrote that, "People fail to listen because of the huge risk they incur in attempting to understand other people without judgment."
When sales people listen their way into the customer's world, "They risk challenging what they themselves believe, in an attempt to understand fully what the customer is saying. What if the customer is right? It is risky to hear this. However, it is even riskier not to hear this. Denial rarely works. The customer knows how she feels, " says Tom Riley.
Listen without giving advice or solutions until your customer has ample time and space to come to terms with their own thoughts and emotions. Your posture in a sales call should always be, I have as much to learn from you as you do from me. This really promotes thoughtful listening.
The more you really listen and ask questions, the more you realize that what you have to say is unimportant and irrelevant to your customer. Listening really allows you the privilege to ask more thought-provoking questions and get more insider information.
The reality is so often your customer does not want you to immediately fix their problems. What they really want is for you to simply listen, acknowledge and understand what they are experiencing. As Keith Rosen states, "Are you listening to someone or are you listening for something?"
"Silence and listening are the foundation of honest speech. So dominate the listening on every sales call and let the silence do the heavy lifting," says James Labaito. Or, as Brian Tracy says, "Take the habit of dominating the listening and let the customer dominate the talking."
In sales the only time that it is appropriate to be overly aggressive is when you are aggressively listening. However, sales people feel threatened because they feel when they are listening they are not in control, or selling. Yet the professional realizes that the way you gain control is by ceding control.
Listening for most orthodox sales people is unsatisfying because not much is happening and they do not feel they are being self-affirmed and being actively engaged. They want greatly for the customer to be predominantly listening to them. Listening, for the amateur sales person, is seen as too passive and not influential. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is when you do not intently listen you deny your customer the integrity of their experience and opinions. Listening is truly the ultimate form of respect and flattery, yet sales people are so intent on controlling the sale that when they hear a pause in the customer's speech they too often hear an opportunity to talk, sell, control and try to influence.