July 2014

Listening The Key To Effective Storytelling

Listening Is More Than Hearing
Want to successfully close a deal, or teach a customer how to work with your services? Then stop talking and start listening. Does this feel wrong? Shouldn’t you be pitching, or delivering your carefully honed and memorized training. NO! You should be listening to what the person or group of people you are working with need in order to feel comfortable taking the steps you want them to take to achieve your goals. Long and wordy sentence but most of the those words have significance. Listening is different than hearing. In fact defines listening as, ” to pay attention,” paying attention to your audience’s needs instead of your script gets you what you want 99% of the time. Because your goal in every customer interaction is to make the client “feel comfortable,” so they can hear you instead of the voice in their head, saying, ” no….I won’t, shouldn’t or can’t.” When I feel that I am being, “pitched,” especially when I sense I am being given the generic party line and that the salesperson doesn’t know a thing about my issues, needs, and wants but is just lumping me in with all the other working mothers, I turn off. If the same salesperson takes just five minutes to get to know me and then uses the intelligence he/she has garnered from our interaction to discuss their product, I feel like I, Jana, am being sold something that I actually may, want, need, and use. Similarly when I am being trained, to do something, if the trainer takes just a few minutes to find out about me and then tailors their training to my particular quirks, I learn a hundred times faster and with less effort. Knowing my level of comfort and experience with the product, my enthusiasm or lack thereof for the training, and the barriers I have towards learning this particular lesson, informs the trainer so they can tailor the lesson to me and remove frustrations from the environment. I always wanted to learn to drive a stick shift but was worried I couldn’t clutch. My boyfriend at the time kept insisting he could train anyone to drive stick. After several weeks of him insisting he could teach me, I shrugged and said, “okay, let’s try.”  After I had stripped his gears for the third time, he gave up in anger and frustration. I felt like a total failure. Why couldn’t I learn? I double pedal and lacking three feet wasn’t a good candidate for using a clutch. If my boyfriend had taken a few minutes to observe me driving, and asked some pertinent questions he would have either come up with a way to wrest my left foot off the brake or not pushed me into trying to perform a task that only served to highlight both of our deficits. I have watched technology trainers time and time again, try and push someone into a formatted learning modality who just are not an “average learner.” The student becomes frustrated, angry, and ultimately gives up.  The trainer has failed his client and his own company. It’s a lose-lose situation. More and more clients are reaching out to me to teach their customer facing sales and training teams storytelling through listening. Rote recitation of features and processes aren’t delivering the results that industry is requiring. In order to close deals, effectively train, and perhaps even up-sell, customer facing teams must learn to listen to the needs of their clients, and then using that intel, make every one of their conversations feel personal.
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