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Thinking is NOT Listening

I’ve had WAY more than one conversation over the last month with salespeople who are distracting themselves with worry, self-doubt, and sometimes even disinterest!
It might sound like this in your head:

  • What am I going to ask next?
  • Oh no, I don’t understand what they’re talking about how will I be seen as credible…
  • Can I close this deal?
  • They said _________, that sounds like this other customer I wonder if they need the same stuff… should I tell them about that…
  • Why do they keep talking about __________?

Thinking what to say next… ask next…  do next… 
means you’re NOT listening!

 “Great Lynn, I get that I need to listen but I can’t get my mind to shut up so I can.” ~ many inside salespeople
Worry – mostly ends up being about what to ask or say next when speaking with people. They’ve finally gotten someone on the phone and are concerned about continuing the conversation AND finding interest AND new/additional/etc business opportunities.
My advice is always the same!
To listen PLAN on asking questions about what the other person is saying.
YUP, you have to listen when you’ll be asking more about it. BONUS points if you use their exact words in your next question.
     Please describe…
               Compare for me how you…
                         To what extent…
                                   Give me an idea of how…
                                             Please explain…
Self-Doubt – disbelief about ability also rears its ugly head, inside people’s heads. If you’re talking to yourself inside your head, there is no room for listening.
I wish I had an easy tip for you on overcoming this one. Unfortunately, self-belief (the antidote to self-doubt) is something that takes effort and work.
One thing I will offer up is becoming more comfortable not knowing ALL the answers. Use your resources:

  • That’s a great question! (insert subject matter expert’s name) is one of the best people to answer that; would it make sense to set up a call to get you the answer?
  • I’m not sure, I’ll make a note to find out and get you the answer. What else are you wondering about?

Disinterest – don’t roll your eyes at me! You’ve been in a conversation where you just don’t care about the topic with a customer or prospect.
My personal top two are team sports and/or personal lives of people I don’t know well.
What are yours?
Believe it or not, identifying them helps. Then be curious about the things that are important for someone to share with you.
Also, make sure you have a physical way to NOT start reading email… looking things up online… whatever it is you do now when you’re disinterested. I have a wireless headset so I’ll get up and stretch or do squats so I’m paying attention to what someone is saying.

NOW practice listening!

If you aren’t used to listening it might make YOU (the salesperson) mentally tired.
Think of listening like a muscle – you have to learn how to strengthen it AND regularly exercise to make it strong.

Start listening to everyone you come across; the cashier at the grocery store, people in your family, random strangers, EVERYONE. For short periods of time – when you would have ignored them in the past – especially when you don’t want to.
Always remember – listening isn’t free, it’s priceless!

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