This is the second post of two on the topic of Active Listening. And it’s a continuation of the Whatvs How theme we’ve been discussing for several weeks now.
The key to Active Listening is your ability to get the other person talking and then to, well, listen and respond from what you hear!
Here are some examples of how to get people talking so you can apply active listening to scenarios you may actually find yourself in, in your business.
Learning about a contact at a networking event
Your objective is to find people who have the kind of needs you and your firm can help them with and who fit your ideal client profile. Not everyone you meet will fit. So it’s important to be efficient in distinguishing who is and who is not a good fit. Active Listening is your most powerful tool to discern this quickly, so it’s a worthwhile skill to develop.
You just need to use one or two open-ended questions to get the other person talking so that you can learn which category they may be in:
- they are in your target market,
- they might be connected to your target market or
- theyhave no direct business connection to/for you.
One way to do this is to ask an open-ended question like: “What brings you here today?” Then listen for the response to determine if you’d like to continue talking to this person or not. If you do want to continue the dialogue with this person, leverage something in the answer you heard to inform the next open-ended question. If you don’t, there’s no need to get stuck in a conversation you don’t want to have, so say “it was nice to meet you, enjoy the event” and simply move on.
Interacting with clients
When interacting with your clients in the normal course of performing your job, try a few of these questions to learn more about them and/or their agendas.
If you are speaking with a client after a long weekend or holiday, ask about it: For example, “How did you spend the long weekend?” Then listen for the response and leverage something in the answer to inform the next question.
If you ask “Did you have a good weekend?” you’re more likely to get a one word answer which doesn’t lend itself to learning anything about the person.
If your objective is to better understand something about your client’s role or their organization, ask one of these types of questions:
“What do you need to do next with this information?” or
“Who else needs to be in the loop on this?” or
“What’s your next step internally?”.
And, a great open-ended question to close a conversation is “What else do you need?”
Never ask “How can I help? Or “What can I do to help?” because it puts all the work on your client to come up with the answer. And quite frankly, that’s your job!
All of these suggestions work regardless of communication medium. Try using these in email, voicemail or in a live conversation.
And – let me know how they work for you.
I wish you good business success.
ps. We offer a great FREE Tip Sheet to help you record the information you learn while listening actively. Check it out here.