The importance of listening well to what your customers are really saying
“You’re not listening to me!”
This is one of the most common complaints you will hear from your DVMs and producers. They aren’t saying you didn’t hear them. They are saying that you didn’t take them seriously and acknowledge them. For many livestock reps, this is a difficult proposition. By acknowledging, they believe they risk appearing to agree when they may not.
The following are four ways that you can eliminate those complaints and increase your closure rate in the process by acknowledging other points of view – even when you disagree.
Give your customers your full attention
Giving someone your 100-percent attention means you listen carefully enough to determine the other person’s point of view. Too often we are more concerned with trying to be interesting to the DVM or producer. Try being interested in your client.
Additionally, suspend all other activities (i.e. checking you phone, getting out another collateral piece). You will become a better listener if you suspend your own point of view at that moment in time and concentrate on your client’s point of view.
Wait until the other person is completely finished before thinking about your response. The slight pause between the DVM/producer finishing their point and your response is another sign of respect. It shows you are not just spewing some canned response you memorized off a spec sheet.
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 her that she has the power in the conversation. Remember, they are the decision maker and you are the decision getter. The paradox here is that the more power you give away, the more power you get back, because the other person knows you are the source of that power.
As you respond, do not try to be impressive. Instead, demonstrate that you are impressed. Again, the more impressed you are, the more others are impressed by you.
All too often, livestock reps attempt to acknowledge customers during a conversation by saying, “I understand.” Unfortunately, this understanding statement is usually followed by another statement that proves the rep really does not understand and has no idea what the customer meant or said.
Rather than tell the other person you understand, prove you understand. Summarize or “net out” what you just heard. A few words are usually sufficient. You can also ask related questions. You only need to let the other person know that you are there, and more importantly, that you got the point.
Here is a key point to remember: Do not provide feedback to show you are listening. Do it to prove you understand. The difference in these two intentions transmits remarkably different messages when you communicate.
To build rapport, you must prove and demonstrate respect for other points of view, not just proclaim respect. Just telling someone, “I appreciate your position” or “I know how you feel,” is not enough. You have to prove it. How many times has someone politely told you, “I know how you feel,” and you were immediately turned off by the insincerity of the remark?
So how does acknowledging respect work? You initiate respect by being willing to communicate with another person at their level of understanding and attitude at any moment in the conversation. You are not being condescending. In fact, showing respect for another person is an absolute must if you are to build rapport and stay in a conversation.
You already do this with people you care about. You naturally adjust your tone of voice, rate of speech and choice of words to show you are trying to imagine being where your customer is at that moment. You do not have to be perfect at acknowledging respect, but you do have to show the other person that you are trying.
A note of caution: Respecting another person’s point of view does not mean you have to agree with that viewpoint. Agreement and respect are not synonymous. By acknowledging another viewpoint, you are simply respecting the other person’s right to a different point of view at this moment in the conversation.
Bonus: If you have read this far, email me the DVM/producer response you find most difficult to acknowledge, and I will send you my suggested response and the first email will also receive a free copy of Cracking the Code to Leadership.