Do you know how to show that you’re listening? By taking immediate action.
That might be picking up your phone in the middle of a sales call and calling the home office to find out where that delivery is.
Or going outside after your meeting, sitting in the parking lot and handwriting a thank you note, putting down two or three of the main points you discussed and stamping it with stamps that you brought and putting it in the mailbox right then so the customer gets it the next day.
It might mean leaving that call, going back to the office, taking some action on some of the things that you said you were going to do and immediately sending out an email or dropping a phone call or a voice mail to that customer letting him know those are done.
Immediate action will differentiate you from all of the competition. And the action I’m going to take tomorrow is going to be based upon what I was listening to today.
Do you really want to make an impact with your customers and want to hear them better? Listen with intent to add value, quiet the inner dialogue, restate the key points and be prepared to take immediate action on those key points.
Let me give you an example. I’m having a conversation with a client of mine who brings up the fact that maybe his son is a baseball player, and that he’s been a heavy-duty baseball player for years but now he’s kind of living vicariously through his son.
So I follow up by going to Amazon.com and putting in “baseball” and “fathers.” I find that Paul O’Neill of the Yankees wrote a book years ago about he and his dad and their journey together through baseball.
It wasn’t a book that Amazon.com sells. It’s one of these hard-to-find books, and it cost me like $4. It cost me more to ship the book than it cost me to buy it. But the fact that I sent it after a conversation when we were talking about this meant a lot to the person who received it. I demonstrated that I listened and I took the time to follow up like nobody else.
He received the book two days after our conversation, because I shipped it overnight. Why? Because I wanted to create the impact. I wanted him to know that I heard. I thought it was really neat, the relationship he has with his son, based upon a sport that he was passionate about growing up and still is today. I thought that was interesting and I wanted to show him that.
Follow up immediately, like nobody else. I don’t think there’s two other salespeople walking the face of the Earth who would’ve gone out of their way to find that book to send. I wanted to be one of those two to show him that I listened.
Photo by Pierre-Olivier, via Creative Commons 2.0.