5 Strategic Listening Skills

Listen, true leaders need to practice active listening. Have you ever been in a meeting with a direct report when you got distracted because your Blackberry went off and you checked it?

Or you heard the bing of email and drew your eyes away from the person you were speaking with and just like that the communication ended. Having sat on both sides of the table I truly understand that by multi-tasking and not giving proper attention to the person you are speaking with that you are sending a message that implies that, “You are not worth my full attention”.  This is true for most serious interactions that you are a part of, and is true in your home as well.

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1. Create trust by building rapport. Relationship building is the most important part of the sales cycle.  If the prospect does not feel they can trust you then chances are you won’t get the sale and if you do it will be at risk.

2. Stay current. Trends, technology, news, sports and current events are common ground on which to build a relationship and rapport.

3. When preparing for any meeting, make sure to set a goal and know what your objectives are.

4. Make a list of questions that you need to ask your prospect and practice them so they sound natural but more importantly so that you don’t forget an important piece of information.

5. Pay attention to your style, make it flow and don’t make a meeting turn into an interrogation.

6. Turn off your cell phone in a meeting.  Send the right message that your prospect has your full attention and don’t get distracted by incoming emails, texts or calls.

7. Use your time well and make sure you know who the decision maker is.  You may ask, “other than yourself, will anybody else be joining us?”, or “How are decision usually made in your organization”.

8. Qualify your prospect. Is this someone who has a general interest in your product or service?

9. Download.  After every meeting makes sure you write down all the information that was obtained in your meeting so that you can refer back to it when building a proposal.

10. Set the next appointment.  At the end of your meeting, schedule your next one, so that the customer has to commit to you in order to present your proposal.

11. Follow-Up.  Following up after your meetings is critical to the relationship. A hand written thank you card with a picture of something your client is passionate about is a nice touch. For example, if your prospect loves golf, then a card with a picture of a gold course on it is a nice touch that will likely stay on your prospects desk.

Being a small business owner I rely heavily on my 20 years of experience in professional sales to prepare me for networking.   After attending numerous events it became clear that many entrepreneurs are unsure of how to network to get the best results.  As a result, I developed some basic skills that will help them get leads and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Step 1) 30 second commercial. Ask yourself a few very important questions before building your commercial: Who am I? What do I want and how am I going to get it? Then ask what product or service makes me unique and solves a customer’s problems? Here is an example of mine. My name is Stephanie, and I am a person who thrives on working with others and seeing their success.  As a career and life coach I help successful entrepreneurs and career professionals who are struggling with motivation, transition, leadership and life balance to bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be. Once you have a commercial that really fits who you are, consider the next 4 Steps:

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by Stephanie Wachman on 06/09/11

The other day I had a dr. appointment and parked my car in a garage. When I got back, my car would not start. I began to panic. I had a lot of work to do and deadlines that needed to be met. I actually planned my work schedule for that day to the minute. It took an hour but finally they came to jump start my car. When that didn’t work, I had to wait another 90 minutes to get a tow truck. All the while, I kept hearing the ticking of the clock because I knew that none of my work was getting done.

As I sat outside the parking garage, I took a deep breath and thought about how there really is no such thing as a work/life balance. In day to day living there are challenges that can offset the balance no matter how well you plan. In order to achieve an attempt at balance we have to create an action plan that focuses on the controllable but accepts the uncontrollable. Sitting under a big tree I thought of three ways to achieve controlled imbalance.

First, is what I refer to as low hanging fruit; these are the easy to control time management tools. We all carry cell phones, iPads, laptops and smart phones. For most people they are always with them, literally in hand. I now refer to them as “binkies” my son used to have a binky that I could never pry from him and the way that we manage our cell phones today are not unlike a child’s binky. It’s time to take our personal time back by turning off our phones every day for 1-2 hours. Here are some suggestions: during dinner time, turn off your phone and put it in a drawer.  When in the car, turn it off and stick it in your glove box. This will not only make you a safer driver but will free up your mind for creative thinking.

Secondly, establish at least five goals. You want to think long term and ask yourself where I see myself in three years, one year and one month. Plan your goals around what is most important to you in your life, such as: family, health, friends, career and finances.

Thirdly, create a weekly and monthly action plan to use as a tool to achieve your goals. Refer to this plan often to keep you on track.

It’s very easy to get caught up with all the uncontrollable things that can happy at any time, but when we take daily ownership of our time, have a clear long and short term vision for ourselves and identify the actions it takes to achieve our goals, then we have control. The next times you find yourself standing in front on a stalled car with a To-Do list as long as an eighteen-wheeler; smile because at least now you understand that you have controlled imbalance.

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Tel: 720-232-3693 Email: stephanie@coachinglib.com

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