By Ignite’s Field Communications Editor Jack Walker
Everyone talks about listening, but who actually does it? One of the things our most successful Ignite Associates tell us about sharing the Ignite Opportunity is that they find out what is important to each prospect and then tell that person how the business can help meet a stated goal. Great promoters and salespeople have always known this not-so-secret technique, but how many of us use it in our daily lives?
You don’t have to be in marketing or sales to take advantage of listening. It’s applicable to whatever job or vocation you have. You may have heard the saying: the key to getting what you want is to help other people get what they want. How true. But don’t most of us feel a little fake by listening to someone just long enough to get clue on how to convince him or her to do something? Well, if you don’t, perhaps you should.
Listening is one aspect of caring. To listen well, you must care about and take an interest in others. Yes, I know it sounds corny. And yes, I also realize I don’t know your set of friends and in-laws, both of whom might make genuine caring and listening Herculean tasks. To be good at caring and listening doesn’t mean we waste time by conversing with people who aren’t open to solutions. We can’t make them open to new ideas, and trying hard when they aren’t will only sap our energy. When they finally open up one day, hopefully they will let us know.
What we are talking about here are the people who are open recipients. Listening to these people is easier. You enjoy caring for them. Here we can make some progress and build relationships. We can really listen to what these people want. However, what was a solution to us at a given time might not be a solution to them. Or, if it is, it perhaps needs to be presented in a different way.
The way someone states the problem helps us determine the solution. What are they trying to do? How urgent is it? What are they willing to give up? If you can, help them arrive at the solution themselves. Sometimes you only need to provide suggestions. They will be more convinced by their own ideas than yours. Lead them along, but respect their autonomy.
You can answer objections, but don’t get into arguments. Use illustrative scenarios of people who solved a similar problem in the way you are suggesting. Try to genuinely help, not convince. No one wants to be convinced.
Finally, this last bit of advice is the kicker and where many people fall short – if someone is not convinced of the solutions you suggest, at the minimum add value to that person’s life anyway. She wants to raise money for her kid’s softball league, but doesn’t like your program? Give her a helpful tip. Send her or her child an encouraging greeting card at the season’s launch. Remember, success is a long-term project. If you are in your line of work for a time, these good deeds will come back to you a thousandfold. If you can’t gain a client initially, at least win a friend. Then eventually, you’ll have plenty of both. Just listen!