Today, we’ll continue with active listening tips.
A lot of people prefer to do things in person because they get more visual input: body language, gestures and facial expressions. But what if you’re on the phone and can’t see your prospect? Could closing your eyes make you a better listener? After all, you're not looking at anything in your office. Your prospect is not there. If you close your eyes and listen, you will find that you get a tremendous uptake in available mental processing power. Just as a computer performs better with fewer high-intensity programs open at the same time, you’ll free up your brain’s processor… And when you do, you’ll be amazed at how many additional nuances you can pick up, just by listening: minute changes in volume, tone, breathing or communication lags (i.e., the time between the end of your question or statement and the beginning of their response).
Now, while you're on the phone, how else can you allow people to know you are paying attention? Well, you can confirm what they’re saying with statements like:
- “What I'm hearing you say is...”
- “Help me understand this…”
- “Let me make sure I've recorded this properly…”
You can also use listening noises, like “Uh-huh,” “I see,” “Tell me more,” “Hmm, that's strange.” If you do choose to repeat something your speaker has said, make sure you paraphrase it, to imply that you're not just parroting what they've said.
One of the more nuanced tips is to change “we” statements to “I” statements when speaking about your offerings. It demonstrates your personal commitment to your customer’s success. Don't be afraid to use that to underscore that you’ll do anything necessary to make sure they're successful once they engage your services.
Also, a word about notes. I've seen a lot of professionals use leather journals, copy books, composition books and Moleskines. There are a lot of ways to make hard copy notes. Frankly, I don't like any of them. I take electronic notes by typing them into an Excel worksheet. It’s a format that is backed up immediately to the cloud and reliably searchable.
And while you’re taking those notes, be sure to jot down anecdotes the speaker has shared with you so you can reference in later in the conversation. Why? Because they'll appreciate that you remembered a story they've told you.