Virtually everyone makes their livelihood by providing a SERVICE TO OTHERS. With a few unusual exceptions, our value in the marketplace depends on the value of the service that we provide as individuals, businesses, or organizational entities.
There are two skills that are often overlooked by individuals that separate them from being average or extraordinary in the marketplace. They are the ďart of listeningĒ and the ďart of asking questions.Ē
If you can master these two communication skills, you can propel yourself into the top 10% of your field in a very short period of time. To fulfill the needs of your customers, you must first be able to communicate effectively with them and listen to their needs. Listening means paying full attention to what they are saying without being distracted by other things around you. Hearing them, taking notes, and helping them to communicate their needs by asking them time-tested questions, are the skills of a True Professional.
Think of your last visit to your physician, lawyer or accountant. When you go there with a need, they ask you tested questions to clarify your needs in order to use their experience and give sound advice. Then itís up to you to LISTEN and ASK these advisors questions on issues you are unsure of, before following their advice.
Thus listening and asking become two of the most valuable skills you can develop. Unfortunately, listening and asking are skills that are hard to find. Many people just talkÖand talkÖand talkÖ They donít ask anything of their customers, they just talk about whatever comes to mind, whether itís about their kidís soccer game, or their personal problems.
Your customers come into your store, or shop, or office because they have a need that they hoped you could satisfy. People donít just walk into a store to say hello and talk to a complete stranger. They do not come in to hear ďyour story.Ē
If youíre a business owner, you have to make sure that itís your customers that are doing MOST of the talking. It is a well known fact that people like it when others take an interest in them. Donít tell your customers about your problems; find out about THEM. Ask questions! Target your questions with precision. Find out what their needs are and then find a way to satisfy them.
Not only will your customers be happy that youíve satisfied their needs, theyíll think that youíre a great conversationalist as well. And the funny thing is that you didnít do very much talking! The best conversationalists are not the people who are constantly talking. On the contrary, they are the ones who can get other people to talk about themselves and their interests.
The next skill that will be necessary to develop is LISTENING. Itís both rude and ineffective if your customer must talk to the back or side of your head. It is very insulting to be answering a question to a person who isnít even looking at you. Look into your customerís eyes when they are speaking to you. Then make sure they are finished speaking and pause, even for a second, before you respond to them. You donít want to talk when theyíre talking, or even make it look like youíre thinking of what to say next while theyíre talking.
Listen, and THEN respond. Itís very similar to a wide-receiver in football: the must catch the ball, and then start running. Just like a wide-receiver canít score a touchdown without the ball, you canít respectfully satisfy your customer without letting them finish what they are saying.
Throw away the bad habits of talking too much, not listening, and having no idea what your customer wants. Replace them with the habits of Asking, Listening, and Satisfying, your customerís desires.
Managers, Owners and CEOs at the highest earning levels are also the BEST at Listening and Asking. They not only practice these skills with customers, but also use them when they interact with employees, suppliers or virtually anyone they come in contact with. Start honing these communication skills today, and watch the magic!