We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
That’s me. Mic in hand delivering a rousing Easter speech in church (remember those?). I was also a smart, but talkative kid at this age. I remember the teacher sent home a note with my report card (all “A’s” mind you!) that said,
Precocious and loquacious.
Thankfully, my dad was college educated – he is where I got my vocabulary from.
“Hey dad, what does that mean?”
“It means you are smart beyond your years and that you are not afraid to offer your thoughts.”
Okay, he got precocious right, but loquacious as defined by Dictionary.com:
“Talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous:”
Sounds more like obnoxious! I now realize that in nuancing that definition, my dad was trying to protect me…preserving that part of me that would make me who I am.
The guy that would stand up in front of thousands with no sweat…. easily speaking off the cuff!
The guy that would write books and blogs and put millions of words in print!
The guy that would become a classically trained master salesperson and coach and teach thousands.
I give thanks to my dad for not stifling my voice at an early age…or allowing them to give me Ritalin! However, in sales, talking too much can be a major detriment. Thankfully, I have learned to control it (no comments please!). So as the Mad Scientist working on what it takes to be a top sales professional, I do a quick anatomy check:
Two ears? Check!
One mouth? Check!
Using them proportionately? Only time will tell.
Your ears and mouth are your tools for communication. The best salespeople understand that you should be listening twice as much as you are talking. Here is the C.A.R.E. model of effective communication process as outlined in these direct excerpts from “Lunch with Leroy”.
Concentrate – Have you ever been talking to someone and you could tell they were waiting on you to finish so they could say what was on their mind? It is an unmistakable look of the daydreamer looking off into the blue sky oblivious to the words that are being spoken by the other person. While many salespeople may not be this overt, they are counting the moments until the clients “hush up” to allow them to give a soliloquy of all the great things their product will do.
You should be doing just the opposite. You should be listening intently to every word and not be in a hurry to offer rebuttal. You have two ears and one mouth… Use them proportionately!
Acknowledge – Notice that the root word is “knowledge”. It means to give credence to what the person is stating. It matters not that their knowledge of your product is limited or even erroneous, they are stating matters of the heart along with any other information they may have gathered…that alone is worth acknowledgment.
It is not time to engage in full objection handling, it is simply to let them know that you hear them loud and clear.
Repeat – This is exactly what it appears to be. Of course, you aren’t going to parrot their exact words as that would be deemed condescending. What is most powerful is to restate their concerns, understanding and information in a way that lets them know that you not only hear them, but you also understand them.
In the days of yesteryear, the professional seller had a leather portfolio with a notepad and took notes of the meeting. This demonstrates a high-level importance of each word the prospective client speaks. Whatever method you choose, it is vitally important for them to know that you are listening, you acknowledge, and you understand.
Empathize– The astute student will notice that the first three elements of the CARE method require minimal conversation from the professional seller. It is more about active listening to the client than delivering the elements of your presentation. It is intended to establish the needs, and desires of the client as the primary purpose for the meeting.
With empathy, we are displaying a higher level of understanding and the affirming emotion of compassion. It must be conveyed with the highest level of sincerity, integrity, and authenticity to be effective. If your purpose and passion are aligned this will be quite natural.
Ultimately, sales is about communication. It asks questions to uncover needs, it demonstrates value, and it handles objections.
My greatest gift is in my voice, but I also realize that left unchecked, it could be a liability. The real key to becoming a top professional is listening to the point of understanding, and then communicating how your solution will bring the desired outcomes. You need…
Two ears…and one mouth. Check!