Customers are wishing someone would listen to their needs and concerns, as opposed to talking to them. You sales people, your marketing people, your competitors and everyone else is talking to them about the products they should buy. But companies that are successful listen and observe their customers. So before you call or visit the next customer, commit to listening. I sometimes write “Don’t talk” as a reminder on my note pad so that I constantly remind myself to shut up and listen. After all, we have two ears and one tongue, but unfortunately the latter gets used a whole lot.
There are couple of active listening techniques I use all the time:
1) Paraphrasing – After the customer has told you something, repeat back to the customer what he just told you in your own words. This serves two purposes – tells the customer you were listening and also makes sure that you did get the essence of what the customer told you
2) Followup questions – Ask follow up questions based on what the customer told you. This again reinforces to the customer that you indeed were listening and interested in knowing more about what he just said.
Remember that if you indeed listen to the customer, you will also be building trust and rapport with the customer. Not many people do this and hence you will be the one the customer remembers. After all, it is all about people relationships and not about products. Happy listening !!