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Sell more by saying less

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Customer Service Tip by Jeff Mowatt
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by Hall of Fame business speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
Here are four tips to enhance trust through stronger listening.
Over the 30 plus years I’ve worked with teams to enhance their customer service and selling skills, I’ve observed one simple, seldom-used communication skill that builds trust. Those who apply it create stronger, higher-value relationships professionally and personally. The secret? Being seen as a strong listener. Unfortunately, there’s a catch.
Most of us think of ourselves as being good listeners, yet the way we actually communicate may unintentionally come across as dismissive or condescending. Not good. To ensure you’re drawing others in rather than putting them off, here are four ways you can enhance trust through stronger listening.
 
1. Rethink impressive
Social media ‘influencers’ are often famously self-absorbed. Many video themselves displaying the latest fashion, workout technique, or political opinion. While this may impress in the one-way direction of social media posts, it’s generally obnoxious with one-on-one communications. Imagine a co-worker droning on to you about their latest fashion or workout - without ever turning the conversation towards you.
 By contrast, we are fascinated when people ask us questions and genuinely seem interested in our responses. Incessant talkers are annoying. Curious questioners are impressive.
 
2. Actually listen
Many of us are guilty of simply waiting for the other person to finish talking so that we can finally share our pearls of wisdom. While it’s more polite than interrupting, being silent doesn’t mean we’re genuinely paying attention. Fortunately, there are two powerful words that prove you are a strong listener – sounds like. Starting your response with, sounds like… forces you to paraphrase your understanding of their situation, proving you’re a good listener. You can take that to the bank with the next tip.      

3. Punch-up your proposals
One of the biggest mistakes sellers make with client proposals is giving an overview of what you’ll do/offer and how you’ll do it. The problem is we haven’t confirmed that we fully understand the customer’s unique circumstances. Instead, start your proposals by describing that customer’s issues. For example: “Sounds like your company has a challenge with A, B and C. And the consequence are X, Y and Z. So you’ll need a solution that will address this. That’s where we can assist.”
When you begin your proposals by defining their challenges and objectives, you instil confidence that whatever you propose is going to be tailored to them. That’s a significant step towards building trust and being viewed as a trusted advisor.
 
4. Make it easy
Customers don’t need more choices. They’re already overwhelmed with seemingly unlimited choices with an Internet search. What customers value, is what I call A.I.D. “A” – we Analyze all the options that are available. Then “I” – interpret those options based on the customer's unique needs. Finally, “D” – direct them to a possible maximum of three options.
 At that point the customer may feel so impressed with how you’ve narrowed their choices, they might simply ask, “What would you do?” Keeping with our theme of being a strong listener, we’d then reply with, “Knowing you, here’s what I’d suggest…” The key is your recommendation is based on what you know of the customer, so it’s likely to be seen as a custom-made solution.
 
Bottom line:
Helping customers make buying decisions is less about being a smooth talker, and more about being a strong listener.

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