From David Ogilvy to Winston Churchill, Steven Covey to William Shakespeare, great minds throughout history and across all walks of life have declared the virtues of listening. Listening has a central and timeless role in developing healthy, productive relationships. These relationships create the very foundation for persuasive communication in any situation, whether it’s diplomatic negotiations, business management, classic literature or sales.
There is a reason that Listen is the first step in the LAER Bonding Process (Dimensions of Professional Selling). You can’t bond with a customer, or address their objection, or empathize with their situation until you have listened to them. Listening demonstrates respect, interest and care for the customer. Perhaps more importantly, it provides the means for collecting information relative to the customer’s attitude, fears, desires, challenges and goals. This insight facilitates compelling discussion, superior solutions and ultimately, Preferred Position.
Bernard Ferrari, author of Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, contends that listening is required for good decision making. He writes, “Good listeners seek to understand – and challenge – the assumptions that lie below the surface of every conversation.” Ferrari goes on to credit listening with the most creative ideas, stating, “Good listening… is the key to building a base of knowledge that generates fresh insights and ideas.” In DPS terms, this is how we identify and close GAPs beyond what the customer even thought possible.
Ultimately, the key to effective listening isn’t appreciating its importance, but understanding how to listen effectively; recognizing what that looks and feels like in a customer exchange, and finally, developing the discipline to stop talking long enough to engage this powerful sales tool.