Supercharge Communication by continually perfecting and investing in EVERYTHING that you need to be effective at and are already good at…listen loudly to supercharge effective communication.
The following excerpts from Chapter 13 in “What’s Your Point” explain why continually perfecting the art of listening is a valuable, essential investment in effective communication for professional advisors and persuaders.
#1. How do you add value?
When your marketing, advertising, or branding message resonates with prospects and clients, they’ll accept it as true because you seem to understand them and their challenges. Once they meet you face-to-face or one-on-one online, will they remain sure you “get them?” Will they see you actively and respectfully paying attention to earn trust? Will it be evident to prospects and clients that you will adapt to their needs and all the other demands on their time, effort, money, and intelligence?
#2. Listening is not silent talking.
- Listening is not silently criticizing what’s being said, making mental jokes, or thinking about how you’d say it better than the speaker who is sharing with you.
- Listening is not waiting until it is your turn to talk and, in the meantime, concentrating on perfecting catchy phrasing or showing off in other ways.
- Active listening is also not guessing what will be said and interrupting to finish sentences or provide a solution before the prospect or client explains what really concerns them and why.
- Listening is not about you.
#3. How do differences matter?
Effective active listening always concentrates on how someone or their problem is different. This individualization is crucial to personal or customized service. Avoid lumping individuals into a general category. When you do, you’re giving them standard service which can not completely suit their needs. In fact, this is really substandard service since it is probably less than your pitch says you deliver.
Too often we listen for similarities. We search for ways to label an individual or group, or pigeon hole a need. In the multigeneration workplace, ageism in both directions (“too young” or “too old”) is rampant. Beware of your biases. Generational biases—yours and/or your clients’—compounded by stereotypes and ageism, can distort what is heard, that is, transforming it into what somebody who “looks that age” would mean.
For example, boomer is a general term for a very diverse group identified merely by their dates of birth. Boomer parents can have boomer children—it’s that diverse. However, references to boomers usually make them (almost 85 million in North America) seem like clones. Each boomer is unique. The group is a rich mosaic of diversity on many levels. The same diversity is true for millennials. If your target includes boomers or millennials, do you communicate with them, and about them, in ways that reflect this diversity?
#4. Why does what you do matter?
What is essential to earn the right to hear what prospects and clients want to share and more? They must quickly and relevantly see value in having you listen to them. When you meet a prospective client for the first time, you should be prepared to succinctly explain what you do.
In plain, jargon-free language, a Professional Benefits Strategy (PBS) sincerely expresses how you and your services solve relevant problems for target clients, from their perspective.
A PBS, memorably and relevantly, reveals where your value lies. The same care and clarity of communication and intent—achievable focus—should be evident at every meeting, every contact, not just the first. The thoughtful analysis that produces an effective introduction can also be applied to content for marketing, client retention, product/service development, business expansion….
#5. What does Active Listening—Listen Loudly—involve?
Active or effective listening combines respectful listening with accurate collection of data and impressions for future reference, placing privacy first.
(1) Active listening, coupled with attentive silence, reflect genuine interest and respect, and always represent powerful elements of your value to clients. While you listen to (or read) what prospects and clients want to communicate, your receptive attention—undistracted silence and no interruptions—is a vital ingredient in successful sharing. By listening intently, you learn exactly how they define the problem and its impact. Never underestimate the value of your attentive silence. Remember, no salesperson ever listened their way out of a deal.
(2) Combine active listening with professional interviewing techniques. For example, strategic questioning—the deliberate use of questions to build rapport, gather information, and guide conversation—helps discover how to exceed expectations for each client. These details, including any client misconceptions, reveal which solutions may be most effective. The information and insight gathered reveal how to adapt products and services to client needs. This effort combines to create value-enriched extreme service excellence.
(3) Keep track of what you’ve heard or learned. Your procedures for recording client information and related data should emphasize:
- Accurate comprehensive needs assessment
- Reduced ambiguity for clients
- Limited jargon and technical terminology
- Appropriate documentation of decisions
- Compliance with privacy regulations and legislation Above-industry standards for record-keeping and client education.
Listen loudly! Client contact may involve phone conversations, meetings, texting, and online contact, but it must always highlight listening. Be engaged, enthusiastic, interested, and committed to remembering what you learn. Ask relevant questions, then listen attentively.
© 2019 PJ Wade, TheCatalyst.com. Except from “What’s Your Point?: Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark & Stick!” (print book publication: 2020)
⇒ Example of how real estate professionals could supercharge communication.