Listen and Ask Questions
Because of the technology available, our attention spans are decreasing and we are not taking advantage of all the ways we can effectively boost our communication with people.
More than ever, we are in high pressure situations were communication has become important. Meetings, deadlines and schedules run our day, at home and at work. If we can understand how to communicate better we can drastically change our results.
If you are in sales, you realize it is getting harder to know more than the customer. They have access to more information and are generally more knowledge about certain products or services. Our customers know more about our competition than we do.
When customers do come in to purchase a product or service from us, we should be asking better question to understand their needs. But that is not all, we also need to become better listeners in the process.
Before we jump to conclusions and offer solutions that will feel will satisfy the customer’s needs, we need to understand what those needs are, as well as why those needs are important to our customer.
Here is the process. We ask questions. Then listen to their answers. Then we offer a solution.
There is a step missing.
We should be asking additional questions to clarify information we want to know. We need ask in depth questions to uncover our customer’s needs, before we attempt to present our solutions.
The Questioning Process
Good communication is not just asking questions.
Rather it is asking the right questions. As the manager or sales person, it is important to understand why the customer needs our product or service. Asking just one more question can help us uncover other needs and give us information to provide the best solutions based on the product or services available to us.
Did you know the difference between a sale and no sale, could be as simple as how you word the question? One wrong word in the question and you many not close the sale.
This happens because we are typically dealing with different personalities. Check out his link to read about different personalities and how to be people smart.
If you phrase your question with a positive tone, you will receive a positive answer. But if you phrase your words with a negative tone you will get a negative answer.
Did you know, the questions you ask and the tone in which you ask them, can influence the buying decision of your customer?
To increase your changes at the sale you must appeal to both the emotional and logical side of a customer. Check out this link to ready more on becoming the greatest sales person you can.
If you ask questions that conjure an emotional response, this alone can cause the client to move forward with the purchase. When you ask logical questions, this requires a logical answer. Logical answers help justification and support the buying decision.
Two types of Communication
We have all heard there are two types of questions to ask when you are communicating with others, so let’s explore them.
Open Ended Questions
Open ended questions are designed to get customers to talk and tell us more about what they need and why. The customer will have to explain themselves in detail and use emotion and logic in their response.
Some good open ended conversation starters are:
- Can you explain…
- Would you describe…
- Can you tell me about…
- Would you elaborate on…
Before you take your next customer, you should develop a list of open-ended questions you can ask the customer. You can do this for each product or service you offer. You will be amazed how many well thought out question you can come up with.
As you start to ask your customer the questions, work on refining your questions based on the different personality types. Make sure the tone and language, you use, will get you your desired results.
Closed Ended Questions
Closed ended questions are the easiest to ask. They are used to communicate, to the customer, that you understand their needs. They are also used when you are ready to move the sale to the next step in the sales process.
When you ask a question, the customer will answer, Yes or No. Pick between a choice given to them. It is a short one or two-word answer.
Closed ended questions can help you understand what the customer needs and why.
Open and closed ended questions do two things when you communicate with your customer. They help clarify what you want to know and they help you understand what the customer is saying.
In your sales presentation, you may ask both types of questions to better understand what the customer wants, needs and is trying to communicate.
When you are asking questions, get the customer to use as many of their five senses as possible to answer the question. This allows them to experience the product or service long before they commit to a purchase.
When asking questions, do not to ask questions that do not add value to you or your customer. You are looking to get information so you can close the sale. Focus your questions on your customer’s needs.
Helpful Questioning Techniques
When we with our customer or when we are communicating with friends, do not answer the question we asked our customer before they do. You need to ask the question then use your listening skills.
We tend to jump in with our thoughts when there are long moments of silence. It is human nature to break the silence. We may also try to answer our own questions when we feel the question we asked is too hard to answer.
Just ask the question and then listen to what the other person says.
The most successful salespeople today have one characteristic in common. They ask good questions and then stay quiet and allow the customer to answer, no matter how long the silence.
We must give our customer, family, friends and other time to think their answer through before they talk. The sign of a throughout answer can be in the silence.
Silence is an effective tool when we communicate with people. Now if you feel that the person may not understand the question, you can always rephrase the question once 30 seconds to a minute have gone by.
Talking too Much
If you are talking more than your customer then you are not listening. If you are not listening, how do you know what is important to your customer?
The more you talk the less your changes to sell your customer the product or service they came in for. Over talking can lead the customer to feel that you are not interested in learning about their needs. They can feel that all you are interested is in the sale and not working with them.
Effective communication can’t happen when we do all the talking. Besides, when we talk too much we tend to say things that are not part of our sales process.
We must learn the skill of allowing the customer to do 90% of the talking. The more they talk the more they will tell you. Even information they were not looking to share with you.
In sales talking less is more, when you ask the question. Ask good questions and ask even better follow-up questions. This will increase your confidence, help you closer more sales and allow you to be effective in meetings.
The Listening Process
Did you know we are not all born great listeners?
For many of us, listening takes practice. Effective listening is needed to understand people and what motives them.
Just because you were born the ability to hear, it does not mean you were born to be a good listener.
Listening is one of the more effective ways to communicate with customers. It’s a social skill everyone should master. It shows customers that you care about what they are saying and that it is important to you.
The reason we must concentrate on being a better listener is because we have a tendency to filter information that we hear. With all the social media and technology available we are even beginning to lose visual concentration.
I heard that we can process more words in one minute than we can speak. This mean our mind start to wonder because it is getting bored as it is processing information faster than it is coming in.
I believe this is very true. Just test out this theory the next time you are having a conversation and count how many times your mind wonders. This is also a reason people have a hard time meditating.
All too often we do not hear what the person is saying, not just in words but tone and body language.
It is important to not just listen to the words. When you were a child, I’m sure someone told you to read between the lines. That is the importance of having active listening skills.
When we do not listen to our customer, we communicate that we want to tell them what we think, as fast as we can. We do this by cutting the person off or dismissing what the person is conveying.
This takes a little work, but we need to not respond until the customer is done communicating their message. How will you know if you need to ask another question, if all you want to do is talk?
One great skill all active listeners have is taking notes on what the customer is saying. Try this the next time you have a customer in your office. Take out your note book and pen. Take notes on what the customer is saying. You will convey an important message which says you believe what the customer is saying is important enough to write down.
8 Traits of a Good Listener
- Good listeners learn and use the customer’s first name.
- They listen to what is being said without being distracted, especially by their mobile phone.
- They understand what people are saying and what they are not saying.
- Good listeners summarize what the customer is saying to sure they are listening and understand the customer’s needs.
- They listen with their eyes and ears. Body language, tone and words.
- Good listeners hear the emotional tone the customer is speaking with.
- They put themselves in the other person’s situation.
- They know that not all customers are the same, so they learn to adapt to different communication styles.
Good listeners mirror the customer’s mannerisms. This can help create the mood and experience we want the customer to have. This shows commonality and build rapport.
Dealing with Different Types of Customers
Anyone who has been in sales or anyone who has gone out to purchase anything knows that no two experiences are the same. One minute we can be dealing with a great customer and the next minute everything changes.
How we deal with this situation will ensure if we will be successful or not in communicating with the customer to make a sale. Click here to learn how to work with angry customers.
- The Loud or Aggressive Customers – Lower your voice and tone. This will help the client relax and stop their aggressive behavior.
- The Customers Who Uses Foul Language – We need to always use clean and professional language. If the customer is swearing to much you can ask them to cut it out. But please use caution on how you ask.
- The Soft Speaking Customer You Can’t Hear – As the sales person we need to keep our voice at a comfortable volume and lean in towards the customer if we can’t hear them.
- The Fast or Slow Talker – We are the professional and we need to adjust our rate of speech to meet there’s.
- Customers Who Have Strong Accents, Bad Grammar, Use Slang or Have a Speech Impediment – It will be important to have a unique approach as each situation we face, can be a challenge. But keep in mind the challenge for the customer can be greater.
Interruptions in Conversation
Interruptions are bound to happen but how we control and deal with them will ensure our success or failure in the sales process. Click here to find out more on how you can make a fantastic presentation and work about interruptions.
- Customers Interruptions – During your sales process the customer will have questions. This is natural but if the customer will not allow you to present then at some point we will need to take control of the situation.
- When Other Customers Interrupt – This will happen from time to time. Learn how to excuse yourself from your current customer and let the other customer know that you will be with them in a given amount of time.
- Visitors Interruptions – From time to time our friends may visit us at our place of work. Excuse yourself and tell them that you can meet with them at another time if you are busy.
- Co-workers Interruptions – Respect that we are all trying to serve the client and ultimately take home a pay cheque. If you need to interrupt another co-worker make sure it’s okay to do so. Ask permission. If they need to interrupt you then they should also ask permission. My advice would be to look at the situation and see if you can find someone else instead like a manager.
- Office and Cell Phone Interruptions – Do not take calls if possible during your sales process. Ask your customer the same thing before the sales process starts. It shows professionalism and respect.
If you must take a call, excuse yourselves politely and offer a brief explanation of why you need to take this call. But be quick on the phone.
If you know you will receive a call beforehand, let the customer know in advance as the phone call interruption will not be a surprise.
Communication and your communicational style is very important. Ask good questions and listening to the answers customers give you. This will help you find success in sales and in relationship building.
Use the tips provided here to kick-start your sales career or to enhance the career you already have. Click here to learn how you can overcome price and sell value to close more sales.
We all want to sell more and learn how to be effective communicators. With every customer, you have practice your sales process until it becomes natural.
If you must, talk to other employees on how to handle situation, take a course, ask the boss for on the job training, read some books or listen to audio programing that can help you grow and succeed.
What one thing will you do today to improve your overall communication skills?
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