We’ve talked about how important listening is in sales, and you know I like to study Neuroscience in sales – more specifically behavioral neuroscience and how the brain affects buying behavior.
Today we are going to put the two together as we look about the four listening styles or listening preferences to see
How to increase your listening intelligence.
You probably already know that two people can listen to the same thing and hear two different things. Just like you have your own personal communication style, you also have your own listening style – you’re listening filters. What you focus on and what you filter out during the sales conversation with a prospect.
How well you are able to pay attention to this information is called your listening intelligence.
Just like your communication style or your negotiation style is an unconscious decision, meaning you do it automatically, your listening style is the same. You do it without even realizing what you are doing.
You know you can improve your communication and negotiation styles by bringing them into your conscious mind and taking time to learn about them. You can improve your listening skills the same way. Train your brain to work in a way that it is not used to and using this awareness of your behavior to get the new results from yourself that you want.
I have not created a quiz to help determine your listening style, but you can take the quizzes to learn your communication style and your negotiation style by clicking here. If I do add a What’s Your Listening Style Quiz, you will be able to find it in the self-assessment quiz area.
What if you learned to listen to the kind of questions the buyer asked, and you changed your sales conversation from talking about the big picture results to how you can support the prospect by solving a problem and making them a “hero”?
Bringing the message to them on a more relatable level. Same message, better result.
Just like we as salespeople “filter” incoming audio information, so do our prospects … and our clients.
If you were able to figure out your prospects’ filters, by listening to the questions and answers from them, what do you think might happen to the number of sales you close?
We go into our sales meetings with an agenda, the information we plan to relay to our prospect. Sometimes this information may be what you think is important, and you will share it in the way you would want to hear it.
What if you delivered the same information, but in a way that your prospect would prefer to hear it? Yes, it takes a bit of tweaking on your part, for every different prospect. That is what your sales conversation is all about.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”Stephen R. Covey
Having an outline of talking points (your systematic process), using the information you learn from your prospect and giving them a customized presentation design just for them – to help them get the results they want in a way that makes sense to them.
This is how you can give the same sales presentation with the same touch points to every prospect, every time, without becoming boring, mundane and rote. Doesn’t that make sense to you?
That is why I look forward to every sales conversation. Because while being the same – they are all different. Based on the personality, background, communication style, and listening style of each one of your unique prospects!
That was a mouthful!
Let’s see what these listening preferences or filters are.
As you read this, I’d like you to focus on ways you can tweak the way you might present to each listening style so you can better communicate with them, and understand what they are really saying to you.
I’m going to share with you not only what words or messages each style is likely to pay attention to, but also what each style is likely to miss, and how to recognize each type.
The last listening style is a little different, and it explains my style, although I try to only use this around my friends from the Northeast, because many Southerners find this style rude.
The first style is connective listening.
This type of listener focuses on how the information you are giving them will support others, rather than the effect of what you were saying we’ll have on them. Because of this “relational” perspective, you may find this type of person focusing more on trying to connect with you rather than what you were saying, missing some of the facts and details.
They are socially intuitive and may pick up on some small details and how it will help or harm others.
Preference number two is reflective listening.
These people focus on what’s in it for them. Have you ever heard of WIFT, (What’s In It For Them), missing the overall big picture. You’ve met this prospect, I’m sure.
Where it almost feels they aren’t even paying attention to you. But it’s actually quite the opposite. They are taking your information and internally processing it to decide if what you were saying will work for them or not.
Listening preference number three is analytical listening.
This style focuses on facts and measurable data – very precise – no gray areas allowed.
They are not interested in opinions or feelings, focusing on results and facts. They want concrete facts and may appear as emotionally disconnected.
The fourth listening preference style is conceptual listening.
These people are creatives that like to brainstorm ideas and like to think outside of the box, offering suggestions that others may not have considered. While considering all the options, it can be challenging to get them to focus and consider one solution. They are also not very good at listening to details. They filter in concepts and possibilities, and filter out details.
And the fifth listening perference style is called the “Cooperative Overlapper”.
These are people that have a tendency to jump in before the other person is done, which in many circles can be perceived as rude or dismissive – BUT, according to Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University Professor of Linguistics, cooperative overlapping occurs when the listener starts talking along with the speaker. This is not to cut the speaker off, but to validate or show that they are engaged in what the first speaker is saying.
Other names for this style of listening are “enthusiastic listenership” or “participatory listenership”.
This actually makes perfect sense to me, being originally from the New Jersey/New York area.
However, living in the South, my style, instead of being appreciated by the speaker often has the opposite effect. I’ve learned the hard way that my being an enthusiastic listener can fluster the speaker, disrupt the flow of conversation, and may even be viewed as a sign of disrespect. Talk about being misunderstood!
I’ve had to learn to tone down my enthusiastic participation to simple head nods.
My point is, that when you learn to recognize and understand the different conversation and listening styles due to ethnicity, culture or personality, you will. have more control over how you are coming across to others.
Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you understand exactly which listening style your prospect is using.
All of these are all great questions, but you don’t want to use them all in one sitting. Use them situationally depending on the conversation.
Do you have a pen and paper ready?
• Could you tell me more about that?
• I’ve noticed that … Then summarize back a feature of their listening style. For example: I’ve noticed that you like facts or that you care a lot about other people…thereby confirming their listening preference and how they want you to present to them.
• What I’m hearing is …?
• Let me make sure I understand…
• Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly …
• Let’s make sure we’re on the same page …
With the last 4 questions, you are summarizing back to them what you think they told you. This will show your prospects that you understand them and what their desires are. Here is your chance to get back on track before you give them a proposal.
When you increase your listening intelligence, you’ll be better able to understand what you pick up on in a conversation, as well as what you tend to miss or even shut out.
Use your listening intelligence to recognize the listening preference of your prospects. Then adapt your style to their listening preference, so that you can keep your prospect engaged in the conversation. And give them what they need to make a decision to work with you.
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