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The Art of Active Listening

Image by Colleen Tighe © The Balance 2019

This introductory article discusses active listening skills and it is the hardest skill to master because people non-verbal cues are very different and for years people have often told me I do not listen.


I often replied to the people who have told me that I do not listen that it is their own perception and confidence that make them decide that I have not listened. We have written two blog posts that can help you deal with difficult customers and find their pain points to provide a solution to their problems, and created and developed the Sales STAR Principles®. Click on the image to find out more about why we have created and developed The Sales STAR Principles®

The logic behind this simple idea is if you learn The Art of Active Listening you will see the beneficial value and usefulness of our marketing model that you can find in our Playbook The Core Assets of Marketing with its dual implementation support system - The Cellar.


For some reason unbeknown to me the image of our marketing model lost all resolution and is blurred. Hence, the 4 quadrants of The Sales Star Principales® are simple. S: determine Situation, T: Task, A: Action and R: Result.


S: Details the background, provide a context, who, what, where, when and How.

T: Describe the challenges and expectations, what needs to be done and why.

A: Elaborate on your specific actions, what you can do. How you are going to do it and what tool you need to use.

R: Explain the result, the outcome expected, recognition, saving, quantity, quality of the product or service.


However, I own excellent listening skills and there is a fine invisible line with each of us where we feel that the person we are communicating with is listening to us. Many people have told me and complimented me and disclosed their issues with me freely as well as giving me gifts and return a favour to me when I was in trouble.


An example of the latter, I had my leg broken and walking with crutches. A customer from the mental health home near my house taught me how to use the crutches. I asked her why you helping me today she replied Trisha you always talked to me and said Hi how are you and listen to me then you go on your way.


Another example of my crutches episode, I was coming back from the local Coop with two bags of shopping heavy to carry and I put the bags on the crutches walking at a snail pace. A blue car stop and say hey Trisha jump in.


I looked puzzled and peered at the window and say I do not know you why would I jumped in your car lady.


She replied Trisha you do not remember but when I was in trouble you stay there and talk to me for an hour until the ambulance arrived.


I replied I do not remember that lady but you seem to know my name and I am vulnerable here, hence I am not going to jump in no car.


She replied don't be so proud and jump in. I dropped you at your house we do not live far from each other and I see you in the area all the time.


I decided to trust her enough and jumped in her car, she dropped me at my house and carried my shopping bags inside my house, placed them on my kitchen table. I said thank you very much lady, and on leaving my house she said no thank you to you, Trisha. I replied mind how you go I did not do anything that spectacular lady. She replied yes you did that why I remember.


Non-verbal communication


Non-verbal communication is 93% of the communication we do on a daily with others and it is part of behavioural communication and active listening. The balance at all times needs to be kept level when communicating with others and boundaries kept.


How to keep the balance in check when dealing with customers


Active listening involves making your customer comfortable to find their pain points and provide a solution to the problem identified.


Your body language plays a big part in it and has to be on cue with the person you are talking to. Your eyes are looking at the person without staring and your face has a smile to invite the person to trust you with whatever they have to say, hence you are paying attention to your customer.


Your eyes are the mirror of your soul and thoughts and communicate an unseen message at all times. Your hand make the message visible to your listener communicating your thought in a friendly, professional manner and your voice makes the message clear to your listener.


Actively listening to your customer simply means that you let your customer speak their mind and thoughts without interruption to allow them to speak freely and feel that you heard and listen to them. The tone of voice your customers use to communicate their pain points should not be of much concern as you do not know where they coming from.


Actively listening to your customer requires an open mind, a good approach, a non-judgemental attitude. Having this approach permits you to discover new ideas, perspectives and possibilities.


How to respond to your customers when they have disclosed their pain point


When the person talking reflect on what is said, do not assume that you hold all the answers and that you understand or heard them. During the conversation between natural speaking pauses asked specific open positive questions, paraphrase key points and use feedback loops to make the person know that you are actively participating in the conversation.


Clarify what you do not understand and asked open positive questions about any issues that are ambiguous or unclear when you are engaged in a conversation.


Respond in a natural tone of voice and be specific on what you can do to help and the solution to the problem disclosed. Demonstrate genuine concern and stress that your company can assist by elaborating the reason why and the benefit your customer or prospect gains using your services or products mentioning any helpful features of your products and services if any.


Be honest with the customer or prospect. If you cannot help or you do not know what to do as it is best to inform your customer or prospect of your ignorance. Because your customer or prospect will appreciate your honesty more than your false pretence.


If you know someone more suitable than you to deal with the issues, do not hesitate to refer them to another company that can help because you may not have achieved a sale but your honesty will be remembered.


If you do not know anyone who can assist with the issues your customer has presented to you, do not be rude or obnoxious but politely state that you sympathise with them but you afraid that you cannot help and wish them good luck and say "I hope you find what you are looking for, I am afraid that I could not help you on this occasion."


Because of your honest reply to your customer or prospect and you have actively listened to their issues, they, in turn, will refer your company to their peers, associates, friends due to the excellent customer service received when the time comes.


Face to Face meeting with your customer


If you know why you are in business. If you love your products or services provided to your chosen community in any industry. Actively listening to your prospects and customers should not be difficult even when meeting difficult customers or prospects. Because your dealing with others will always make your just cause shine brightly to the listeners.


With the latter in your face to face meeting with your customers or prospects, you will be able to find their pain points and provide a solution to their needs easily because you begin to actively listen and your behaviour is in balance with your customers and prospects.


If you were successful or even unsuccessful in acquiring a sales greet your prospect or customer on leaving with a handshake as this demonstrates and communicates respect and enthusiasm and shows visible kindness. Remember what I said about your hand at the beginning of this article "Your hand make the message visible to your listener communicating your thought in a friendly, professional manner".


Online meeting with your customer


The information about Active Listen apply to online meetings too, it is not because you are using Zoom or any other online meeting platforms that you should lose your manners, politeness and professionalism. Or takes this opportunity to embarrass or belittle others like the recent example publicised on Linkedin about the Tai CEO of Air Asian embarrassing his staff in a public meeting.


Conclusion


Remember that the customers come first and if you have genuine friendly professionals dealing with your prospects and customers actively listening to their pain points should not be a problem and you can inspire someone to do better by listening to their issues or provide a solution.


If you like this blog post full of inspirational information for your business, would you care to leave a comment or if you are curious find out who we are at Girlfridayz Limited and the services provided to our customers?


Why we are in business is simple and it is considered as an ideal but we believe in it and that is what makes me get up every day to run Girlfridayz Limited and work hard to achieve my vision because my why gives me direction and purpose.


"I have cherished the ideal of businesses working together in harmony and equal opportunities regardless of their size in a free society in which the concept of market share and support for one another toward a common goal is present." Trisha Amable CEO of Girlfridayz

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