What is listening
Listening is described as:
1. to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear. 2. to pay attention; heed; obey (often followed by to):
This definition of "listening" comes from Dictionary.com. The definition is correct, but by no means sufficient. Otto Scharmer, researcher and author of Theory U, defines not one but four different levels of listening, namely:
Level 1: Downloading
Downloading is based on existing beliefs. Nothing new is taught here. This way of listening is seen on both the selling and purchasing side.
Level 2: Actual listening
Actual listening means that only new information is listened to that can supplement existing knowledge or experience. This provides a better picture or extends specific knowledge.
Level 3: Listening empathetically
With empathetic listening, one person moves into another while listening. This helps to better understand what someone else means or experiences. Empathetic listening makes it possible to respond significantly better to needs. This is how the knife cuts both ways. Everyone benefits: the sales professional and the customer or prospect.
Level 4: Generative listening
Generative listening goes deeper and also makes a deeper connection. Ideas and collaborations arise in this way of listening. This is a dialogue in which both parties respect each other and value each other for their ideas.
Sales Talk: Listening is the source of valuable information
Of these four ways of listening, empathetic and generative listening are the most beneficial. There the emphasis is on dialogue instead of discussion. By listening in the right way, knowledge and ideas are generated. Valuable knowledge and ideas. At the same time, there is more clarity about the context of a situation or request for help. This allows sales professionals to create appropriate quotes and provide customers and prospects with what they really need. It takes two to tango and that is why it is important that all participants have an open and curious mindset in addition to listening.
Improving listening skills: 5 tips
Tip 1: Listening position
Most people unconsciously listen more with their brains than with their ears. Beliefs play a big role in how one listens. People do not see the world as it is, but as they are themselves. In this way, there is also listening. A good listening attitude means (pre) judgments and letting go of expectations. By letting go, there is room for an open, curious attitude in which you listen significantly better.
Tip 2: Also listen while speaking
Listening while speaking means that at the moment of speaking, one remains alert to the signals of others. Pay attention to body language, reactions, and pause when someone wants to ask. It is advisable to interrupt a speech to answer questions. As a result, a sales professional ensures that everything has been understood and thus shows interest. In addition, a customer or prospect feels heard and taken seriously, which increases confidence.
Tip 3: Check, check, double check
It is crucial to check that the message has been properly understood. This can be done by asking further questions, summarizing and then checking again. This prevents misinterpretation while stimulating the customer or prospect to go into further detail. As a result, all parties understand each other better, which significantly increases the chance of effective and sustainable cooperation.
Tip 4: Avoid yes-but reactions
Are sales professionals not allowed to say anything at all? It's okay to give your own vision. That is also an opportunity to show that people have listened carefully. However, avoid yes-but responses. According to work psychologists, yes-but reactions are the biggest pitfall of driven sales people. Customers and prospects feel pushed into a corner by this. Resistance is created instead of connection.
Tip 5: Take notes
Taking notes improves listening and ensures that what has been said is much better remembered. Side note: listen first, reflect, summarize, and only then take notes. Otherwise there is a risk of being too distracted.
Speaking is silver, listening is gold
Listening does not fall into the category of smart tricks to manipulate customers or prospects. Listening as described here is all about the right intention and being open to a sustainable cooperation in which trust, mutual interests and respect are central. By listening better, sales professionals can make more informed decisions, prepare a truly suitable offer, serve the customer or prospect better and increase sales.