Tag Archives: client relationship

Avoiding the Fake Listening Trap

By Jeff Beals

Ask any sales professional about the key to success, and there’s a good chance they’ll say, “You have to listen to your client.”

As a sales strategist, I meet with many successful sales reps, managers and executives.  I always ask them about the secret to successful selling. The answers tend to be similar. One time, after yet another of them mentioned the importance of listening, I responded with a slight tone of frustration in my voice:

“Everyone says that listening to the client is the most important skill a salesperson can have,” I said, “yet few salespeople actually bother to listen! It’s a cliché. Yes, you have to listen to your clients, but most salespeople do a lousy job of it.”

The sales leader responded, “You are right. The key is to listen and TRULY HEAR.”

Salespeople think they are listening but they are really just pretending to listen.  They’re going through the motions and not really comprehending what the client or prospective client is trying to communicate.

The more I pondered this, the more it reminded me of an experience I had back when I was in graduate school and working for the university as a graduate assistant.

An Ear-Opening Experience

Each month, we grad assistants were required to attend professional development sessions. The topic during one of those sessions was “active listening.”  The presenter was some sort of “active listening guru.”

What she said made sense…Stand or sit with an open stance – arms not folded and legs not crossed – and lean slightly toward the person who is talking.  Nod your head and show interest with your eyes and facial expressions.  Make reaffirming noises to assure the speaker that you are actually listening.  And finally, paraphrase back the last few words of each spoken paragraph.

If you do those things, the presenter said, you will be engaged in the conversation and will make the speaker feel understood and appreciated.

At one point, the presenter said it was time for all of us to role-play what we had just learned.  She told us to pair up with another audience member and move our chairs so we were staring at one another. The presenter informed us that we would each take turns speaking and actively listening.

I was paired with a fellow grad student named Sandy.  We agreed that Sandy would talk first and I would actively listen first.  The facilitator blew a whistle to indicate it was time to start.  As Sandy spoke, I monitored my posture and all my non-verbal messages. I nodded.  I showed interest with my facial expressions. I paraphrased back certain words.  I made sure my arms were not folded for even one second.  All in all, I was pretty good at this active listening stuff.

Or so I thought.

As soon as the facilitator blew her whistle indicating it was time to switch roles, it suddenly occurred to me:  I hadn’t the foggiest clue what the hell Sandy had just told me!

How You Can Truly Hear

I was so focused on the mechanics of good listening that I never really HEARD what she had to say.

This happens to so many professionals on an almost daily basis. People intend to listen to their clients, but in the end, they don’t truly hear.

How can you fight this tendency and not fall into the fake-listening trap?

It’s not easy, but here is what works for me.

When I begin a conversation with a prospect, current client, colleague or some other professional who might refer business my way, I set my brain to “listening mode.”  I tell myself that the person in front of me is going to say something that will have a direct impact on my success.  It’s my job to find it.  I try to approach the conversation like a detective who has to keep digging until he finds the right information.  My ears are constantly searching for cues and clues.

That may or may not work for you, but it helps me a great deal.

Whatever technique, you use, the sales experts are right: you DO have to listen and truly hear.  Showing interest in a client helps build a trusting relationship.  Discovering what the prospect values makes it possible for you to do business with them.

The key is to “listening with intention,” not just going through the motions making it look like you are listening.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“You brought great value to our event. The workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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5 Ways to Develop Trust with Your Clients

By Jeff Beals

Here are a couple indisputable truths about today’s business environment:

  • Sales cycles are much faster than they were 10 years ago.
  • Buyers are distracted and under much more pressure than they were in earlier times.

Because we now operate in a frenzied selling environment, some sales professionals believe there is no longer a need to develop trust. They argue that there’s not enough time to build trusting relationships, and even when you do have time, many buyers prefer to keep their vendors at arm’s length.

I personally don’t agree.

I acknowledge that sales professionals must try harder to build trust, but the end result is well worth the effort.  The good news is that you don’t have to go from not knowing someone to lifelong confidant in one setting.  Build trust a little bit at a time.  When you first meet a prospective client, get to know them, build rapport and establish a relationship.  As you get serious about doing business together, there are five ways you can develop trust.  Keep doing these things over time, and you’ll develop a close friendship with a person who will become one of your all-time best clients:

  1. Communication

Those sales professionals who go out of their way to communicate tend to build trust quicker and more deeply with clients. Detailed and timely communication removes suspicions and reassures clients.  Tell the truth and don’t procrastinate when you need to tell prospects things they don’t want to hear.  As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”

Another important part of communication is to say you are sorry when appropriate. It’s amazing how much an earnest and sincere apology can boost trust.

  1. Moment of Truth

At some point in any given relationship, you will encounter a moment of truth, a time in which you will be faced with an important decision. How you decide to act determines if you “pass” the moment of truth.  If you do pass it, you build trust.  Fail it and the relationship could be irreparably damaged.

What are some moment-of-truth examples? When it’s tempting to lie but you tell the truth.  When you have a choice to do something in your interest or your client’s interest and you choose the client’s. When you go the extra mile to help clients achieve their goals. When you screw up and do everything in your power to fix the situation.

Moments of truth are opportunities.  Embrace them as a chance to prove your trustworthiness and advance the relationship.  Every time you pass a moment of truth, no matter how small, trust becomes at least a little deeper.

 3. Consistent Performance

People trust other people whose behavior is predictable. If you are the type of person who responds to challenges in a consistently professional manner, you come across as trustworthy.

The best predictor of a person’s future actions is frequent past behavior. If you consistently establish frequent past behavior that is trustworthy, it will be much easier for you to be trusted in the future.

  1. Behave Like a Fiduciary

In addition to my speaking and sales consulting practice, I work in commercial real estate. I’ve held a real estate license for the past 16 years.  As a licensee, I legally have a fiduciary relationship with my clients. That means I am required to put their interests before mine. Even if you work in a profession that requires no licensure, pretend you have a fiduciary relationship with your clients and behave accordingly.  Practice this habit over a period of time and your clients will adore you.

  1. Be Absolutely Responsive

Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps To Accelerate Every Company’s Sales, argues that the race does not go to the swift; it goes to the responsive. In a marketplace in which buyers complete much of the sales cycle on their own before they even contact a salesperson, you can’t be relatively responsive. You need to be absolutely responsive!

Paul says you follow up with 100 percent of leads immediately, practice unconditional support, make sure you have someone with deep product knowledge readily available in a client-facing position and record all facts in your CRM system immediately while the information is fresh.

No longer is it okay for salespeople to return messages within 24 hours.  That’s simply not fast enough.

In closing, those who flourish in sales for many years endure because they put a premium on people. They build trusting relationships not just for financial gain but because it’s also the right thing to do.

Elite sales professionals are in business for their clients. Ordinary ones are in business for themselves.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us down here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

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