Because listening is an unnatural act!
In terms of processing language and speech, the average human brain can articulate 120-150 words per minute. Yet, we process speech at around 350-500 words per minute. See the problem? Our brain is moving faster than the customer’s lips. There’s about a 350-word processing gap between talker (client) and listener (seller). This is why too often the listener’s (salesperson’s) brain is saying, “Yeah, yeah, I got it…get to the point.”
We also have a tendency to prognosticate (forecast) where the conversation is going. Our brain hears a few key phrases or words and immediately jumps (or leaps) to a conclusion, which further exacerbates the painful waiting time while the listener finishes their thought. The listener’s (salesperson’s) brain is saying, “I can see where this is going already!” or “Yes, you sound just like my last 20 clients; I know what you need.”
In defense of us Homo Sapiens, listening or having a lengthy conversation is an unnatural act. Our still primitive (Reptilian) brain uses listening for survival, not conversation. It detects danger in the environment; in constant survival (surveillance) mode. Our brain cares about our own needs. When it comes to something that is not in our self-interest, we switch the channel or tune out!
Our brain is running on a legacy system that is more than 100 million years old. We humans don’t have a natural conversation mode; this is a social construct that the primitive brain has yet to catch up with. So if you’re a poor listener, I’m here to tell you that you’re normal! Our newer brain, the neo-cortex, is doing it’s best to rationalize and analyze what we need to do. But think of the new brain as an App trying to run on a system built with contact switches and vacuum tubes. (Only old school people will get this reference)
When we do listen to others it’s not for their benefit, but for ours. For example, we will listen to words of caution when we are unsure. We will listen to directions when we need them. We listen when and ONLY when our survival (or protection of resources) is at stake. We listen when it is in our own self-interest.
Which begs the question, “Can we tie our survival, our self-interest, to better listening and would that compel us to listen more?” I think so.
Here’s the upside of listening:
- When you listen to a customer, you are showing them that you care about their survival (business pains)
- When you ask questions (active listening) you show them that you are really listening and that you genuinely care
- When they see that you genuinely care, their self-esteem rises because they’ve found someone (you) who is validating their concerns
- They then feel better about themselves and they associate that good feeling with YOU
- People buy from people they like, trust and have a solution that fits
Listening just made you money! And, the next time you call, the client will welcome you with open arms because they have good memories about your last meeting. They enjoyed the conversation about business and look forward to it again. More sales will follow!
Now here’s the downside scenario:
- You ask the client a few questions then launch into your pitch.
- Client will ask a few question but you go off-topic because you’re not really listening. You know what YOU want to say.
- After a while, the client stops listening because they’re not being listened to or what you have to say has no relevance to their problem.
- You notice the reticent client and decide to try to re-engage the client.
- The client is resigned to end the meeting and says, “Well, I’ll give your solution (proposal) some thought and get back to you.”
- You follow-up a day, week and month later with no response.
When you don’t listen, people feel as if they don’t matter and neither do their problems. They’ll see you as a peddler of product not a savior with solutions.
Not listening just cost you a lot of money! How much?
Let’s imagine for a moment that it took you 2 weeks of calling and cajoling to get that meeting. Total time invested in terms of time and effort to get the meeting was 5 hours. You spent an hour in that meeting so that means you’ve invested 6 hours. And further, imagine the commission on the deal is $12,000 to you.
That means that each hour invested was worth $2,000 to you if you average it out. Yet, the reality is that the most expensive (or most valuable) hour that accounted for the $12,000 commission was the last one…and you blew it because you didn’t listen to your client.
· Not listening is costing you the sale!
· Not listening is costing you clients!
· Not listening is costing you commissions!
· Not listening is making your position precarious!
· Not listening is jeopardizing your SURVIVAL!
Make sure your primitive brain draws that connection!
p.s., When you don’t allow a client to communicate their needs, you, in turn, become a poor communicator of value.
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