Brian Tracy gives us some great thought and detail in the most important of all communication skills -- listening. Be sure to check out: www.BrianTracy.com. His thoughts take me back to Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" in which Covey talks about empathic listening.
Paraphrase Your Customer's Words
The customer is only sure that you have been listening when you paraphrase what the prospect has said and feed it back in your own words. This is where the rubber meets the road in effective listening. This is where you demonstrate in no uncertain terms to the prospect that your listening has been real and sincere. This is where you show the prospect that you were paying complete attention to what he or she was saying. Paraphrasing is how you prove it.
Question for Clarification
When the prospect has finished explaining his or her situation to you, and you have paused, and then questioned for clarification, you paraphrase the prospects primary thoughts and concerns, and feed them back to him or her in your own words.
Use the Right Words
For example, you might say, "Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It sounds to me like you are concerned about two things more than anything else, and that in the past you have had a couple of experiences that have made you very careful in approaching a decision of this kind."
Feed it Back Accurately
You then go on to feed back to the prospect exactly what he or she has told you, pausing and questioning for clarification as you go, until the customer says words to the effect of, "Yes, that's it! You've got it exactly."
Earn the Right to Sell
Only when you and the customer completed a thorough "examination" and have mutually agreed on the "diagnosis" you are in a position to begin talking to the customer about your product or service. In general terms, this means that you can not pull out your brochures and price lists and begin telling the customer how your product or service can solve his problems or achieve his goals until about seventy percent of the way through the sales conversation. Until then, you have not yet earned the right. Until then, you don't even know enough to begin an intelligent presentation without embarrassing yourself.
Be a Good Listener
The more and better you listen, the more and better people will like you, trust you and want to do business with you. The more they will want to get involved with you as a person and the more popular you will be with them. Excellent listeners are welcome everywhere, in every walk of life, and they eventually and ultimately arrive at the top of their fields.
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, remember that your first job in the sale is to get the customer to like you and believe that you understand his situation. Paraphrasing is the way you accomplish this.
Second, be sure that the customer agrees with you completely when you feed back his concerns to him. Only then can you really start selling.