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Listen for red flags. And never, ever interrupt.

When you’re listening well, something amazing happens: You begin to see connections between apparently isolated statements.

Can you see how that might be useful in a sales situation – to be able to discern red flags? Because those red flags are opportunities.

Look for contradictions or connections between things. So in a conversation, you may find yourself saying, “Excuse me. You said this just now. Is that right? Now, earlier in the conversation, you said this. Those two statements seem to connect. Those two things seem to create a common theme here. Tell me about that. Take me a little deeper on that.”

Or, “Wait a minute, Mr. Customer, you said this just now, but earlier in the conversation you said this. Well, which one is it?”

It shows that you listened. So you’re looking for connections or you might be looking for contradictions. But it shows that you’re listening now, it shows that you listened then. It helps you call them on the mat. You’re not just automatically agreeing with everything that they say.

If you can reconnect with something they said earlier or, again, look for that contradiction between what they’re saying now and what they said earlier, you’re demonstrating that you heard. And that is so important.

One last rule for listening well: Never, ever interrupt when your customer is talking.

When you have a tendency to interrupt, number one, you’re either assuming what they were going to say and you might assume wrong. And even if you do assume correctly, number two, you’re negating their right to be able to express themselves, to be able to share their feeling.

When you do that, you will inevitably shut them down. There’s nothing more disrespectful than interrupting. This goes for your personal relationships as well. I love my wife with every single ounce of my being, and I still have to work hard not to interrupt her. Because we’ve been together for so long, we have a tendency to not worry as much about each other’s feelings.

And when we do that in a relationship, it may show that we’re not keyed in on letting the other person share their point of view. And in doing so, we’re showing them that we may be taking them for granted.

It can be the same thing in any relationship. When you interrupt, you showed them that their point is not as relevant to you as your point needs to be to them. And by all means, there’s no way that you’re ever going to show a customer that you care by cutting them off.

So never interrupt. Never look at your watch. Never stop them from saying their point. And this goes for salespeople, customer service people and so forth. Never interrupt. Just the fact that they can express themselves, if you cut them off you may miss a vital piece of information, where will be the key to the understanding behind what it is that they say.

Remember, nobody ever listened themselves out of a sale. If you use these tips, I guarantee you you’re going to hear things your customers are saying that you didn’t hear before.

You’re going to hear things in your relationships at home, keys to being a better partner. Use these things in business, use them at home, and learn how to grow your business using those two little things strapped to either side of your melon, and listen your way to greater sales and profits.

Photo by rvw, via Creative Commons 2.0