Building Rapport

Sales

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Leading conversations away from negativity and into well-informed decisions.   

Editor’s note: The following is part one in a series.

“You’re not listening to me!”


While this is one of the most common complaints you will hear from customers, it seems like we never get this response when our customer is positively inclined about the product or service we are discussing. On the other hand, too often this is the customer’s response when he or she is negatively reacting to our presentation.

Many of you have asked for advice in dealing with these negative responses in a way that proves you are paying attention and leads the conversation to a well-informed decision.

This column and the next are designed to help you become a much more effective listener and, more importantly, give you the ability to prove to others that you indeed are listening to what is being said. We’ll show you how to do this, and how to build and maintain rapport throughout your conversations.

Let’s start by giving the customer 100% attention and formulating the appropriate response.

100% Attention

Giving someone your 100% attention means you listen carefully enough to determine the other person’s point of view. You listen to what the person says, and watch how he or she says it. You also suspend all other activity – no phone calls, emails, or texts. You pay attention to every word the other person says.

The paradox of doing this is that when you listen for the other person’s point of view, you automatically give him or her your 100% attention. Being able to maintain this high level of attention with anyone, in any mood, is the crucial skill of effective listening. The following are four tips:

  • Be interested; don’t try to
    be interesting.
  • Suspend all activities, including your own point of view, for the moment.
  • No multitasking.
  • Wait until the other person is finished talking before thinking about your response.

Only when you’ve given your customer 100% attention first
can you begin to formulate the appropriate response.

Response

The purpose of a response acknowledgement is to prove you are listening, that you received the message, and that the message has an impact on you. Done correctly, a response acknowledgement shows a person much more than polite words ever could convey.

By responding to the other person, you are telling them that he or she has some power in the conversation. The paradox here is that the more power you give away, the more you get back, because the other person knows you are the source of that power.

Here is another pointer: As you respond, don’t try to be impressive. Instead, demonstrate that you are impressed. Again, the more impressed you are, the more others are impressed by you.

Basically, you have two kinds of response acknowledgements – non-verbal and verbal. Non-verbal responses include nods, facial expressions of interest or concern, steady eye contact, and hand gestures. You can use these alone or combine them with verbal acknowledgements and tone of voice to reveal your sincerity.

With verbal acknowledgements, the inflection in your voice can go up or down depending upon your response. Down acknowledgements signal that you received the message and the speaker can now change the subject or move on to another point. Sample down inflections include: “Got it. “Thank you.” “Fine.” “OK.”

Up inflections signal you want the speaker to continue talking or expand on a point, and that you are following the speaker’s logic path. Up inflections include: “Oh?” “Really?” “And…” “Then?”

When you use response acknowledgement appropriately, you demonstrate to the speaker that he or she got through to you, and you eliminate any need for repetition. People appreciate having their communications acknowledged. This is true even with email and voicemail.

So now you have an intellectual understanding of what to do and how to do it. A good start, but an intellectual understanding does not build the skill of competence. So, your assignment until the next issue of Veterinary Advantage Magazine is to practice these two points until you build enough muscle memory that they become so ingrained that they’re a natural part of your every interaction.

About the author:

Patrick T. Malone is a Business Advisor and Leadership Mentor based in Blairsville, Ga. He is the co-author of the best-selling business book Cracking the Code to Leadership and may be reached at [email protected] or 706-835-1308.

Effective listening tips

  • Be interested; don’t try to be interesting.
  • Suspend all activities including your own point of view for the moment.
  • No multitasking.
  • Wait until the other person is finished talking before thinking about your response.

Verbal acknowledgments

Down acknowledgments signal that you received the message and the speaker can now change the subject or move on to another point:

  • “Got it.”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “Fine.”
  • “OK.”

Up inflections signal you want the speaker to continue talking, or expand on a point and that you are following the speaker’s logic path:

  • “Oh?”
  • “Really?”
  • “And…”
  • “Then?”

Photo Credit: istockphoto.com/SDI Productions

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