What is the most precious gift that you can give someone? Something that they will treasure and value and put you three steps ahead of everyone else in your client’s eye? The answer, strangely enough, is listening and then moving to an action based on that listening.
There is no doubt that in order for long-standing sustainable business to happen, you have to first and foremost, foster bonding and rapport.
Without it, everything you receive is just surface business and there is no real loyalty. The client will move on when something better comes along. I have been fortunate enough that when I have changed companies, I always bring a high majority of my accounts with me. Of course, the new company has to provide the same products and services. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you solidify that bonding and rapport at the beginning, the chances of your clients transferring their business to your new employer increases.
How does listening help? When you truly listen and take notes of what is being said, you receive so much more information that will enable you to set yourself apart from your competition. Take note of personal things that are important to the client. Are they going to compete in a special event, or, is there a special occasion coming up for them, or, are they currently striving for a special goal? It does not end there though, you have to take it to the next level for the listening to actually be acknowledged and valued by the client and the funny thing is, it does not cost you a single cent.
The two major factors in establishing rapport; which leads to trust (and let’s not kid ourselves there is no business without trust) is that the client must know that they have been heard and more importantly, understood. Therefore, if it was important enough for them to tell you, then should it not be as important for you to somehow acknowledge it? The acknowledgement does not happen when you say such things as: ‘Wow that’s great,’ or, ‘Good luck.’ That is what every other salesperson has said in the past to them.
How you set yourself apart is that you not only acknowledge it at the time but also ask questions about it. If it is a competition, ask if they have done it before, or, how long have they been training, etc. If it is an event, ask how they got that far, or, what would they say is the biggest secret for accomplishing it, etc. In other words, don’t pretend that you care, but actually do care by asking questions that you could only have asked if you were actually listening.
That however, even though a great step, is not the precious gift that will actually solidify the relationship. That gift would actually be to call them after the event has been completed and ask how it went. This demonstrates to them that you not only heard them, but that you understood them and the important significance it actually meant to them. Stephen Covey said:
Stephen Covey said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Unfortunately, our clients want to be understood and that only comes from listening.
It is those that do listen for that understanding that become the true professional.