BLOG

3 Ways to Become a Better Active Listener

admin

0

Being an active listener is important, whether it is in a meeting with the perfect client or in a negotiation with a raging lunatic. It encourages trust by showing that you care about what the other party is saying. Listening shows that you are not simply hearing what they are saying, but actually processing the information and taking it seriously. And it may preempt misunderstandings before they create problems. Here are 3 ways to become a better active listener.

  1. Put the technology away

It’s hard to disconnect, especially during work hours. But it is essential to minimize distractions during conversations to ensure that the people you are meeting with know that you value their time and opinions. By putting the technology away, you increase the likelihood of giving the other party 100% of your attention. Instead of using a computer or notebook to take notes, try using pen and paper to decrease distractions. If a computer is necessary, store necessary files on the desktop and turn the internet off to avoid the temptation of checking that new email or answering a lingering text.

  1. Repeat important statements in your own words

Repeating important concepts or statements in your own words serves multiple purposes. If the other party agrees with your reiteration, it shows that you are engaged in the conversation and received the message as intended. If the other party notes a discrepancy in what was said and what you said, it may help preempt miscommunications before they turn into problems by showing that something was lost in translation.

For example, if a client says “I would take $4 million for two,” you should repeat the statement as you understood it by saying, “So you would like $2 million for each.” If the intention was to get $4 million for each of the two, getting clarification could help avoid a huge misstep.

  1. Ask questions

Besides the obvious goal of getting answers, asking questions serves similar purposes as restating important messages. It shows that you are listening to the speaker and want to make sure you understood what they said. And it gives you the opportunity to clear up any discrepancies before they become full-blown misunderstandings. When an answer is given, it may help to repeat it in your own words to make sure that it cleared up any lingering questions.

Similar to the previous example, if a client says, “I would take $4 million for two,” you could ask, “Is that $4 million for each or $2 million for each equaling $4 million?” Again, this will clarify the client’s goal and avoid a mistake moving forward.

 

For more on how to become an active listener, check out The Power of Nice, which discusses how to participate, engage, and personalize to become a better negotiator, faster.

Navigating Negotiation Stalemates

admin

0

Every businessperson has experienced a negotiations stalemate. Compromise has faltered, neither party is willing to budge, and there is nothing more to say. A successful negotiator knows the way out of a stalemate and how to seal the deal.

Stay Professional and Keep the Client

Before trying to get your opposition to budge, think hard about what you are willing to do to keep this client. Make sure you are being smart about considering compromise. What is the smallest concession you are willing to make? Is this concession worth keeping the client? Negotiation isn’t always about getting your way on everything, sometimes to get what you want, you have to know and help them get what they want.

Your tone should remain professional, no matter how heated the negotiations become. Be courteous. Avoid the “buts” – saying, “I understand your point, but …” just tells your opposition that you are rejecting their points. Shift the conversation to finding joint solutions. Ask them, “How can we make this work?” Build relationships is much more profitable in the long run than burning bridges in one deal.

Breaking the Barrier

You’ve made all the concessions you are willing to make. Now is the time to break through your opposition’s objections. The first step is to understand the other person’s stumbling block. Get this information by being honest about your sticking point. This invites them to tell you why they aren’t budging. You will be able to address their concerns from this information.

If you aren’t getting anywhere at the negotiating table, it may be time to shift focus. The key is to change the context of the conversation to something else for a while. Get the client out of the combative mindset by suggesting a break. This allows you to engage with the opposition in a social context and gives them a chance to get to know you on a personal level. You can also talk about future business opportunities your two organizations might share in the future. More important, it gets them out of the adversarial mindset.

Power Moves

Breaking up the negotiations when they have stalled may be your only option. If you have the upper hand at the time, you can suggest a cooling off period. This is a better move to make when you know your opponent wants the deal more than you do. The prospect that you are willing to walk away may be all that is necessary to get the other party to budge.

If you don’t have the advantage in negotiations, it is still possible to shake up the negotiations by buying some time. Telling the opposition that you would like a legal opinion is a card you can always play. Most business-people understand the need for legal advice. This keeps your negotiations open and buys both of you some cooling-down time.

Keep an Ace in the Hole

When all else fails, you should always have a trick up your sleeve. Before you go into negotiations, prepare something you can use to push stalled negotiations over the edge. Use alternatives. A deal, a discount, or a special offer can go a long way to closing the deal.

Listening: The Golden Rule of Successful Negotiations

admin

0

You know the feeling of frustration you get when you know you aren’t being heard? It’s the same feeling your potential client has when you place more importance in the pitch you’ve prepared than what he or she has to say during a negotiation. Negotiation is about striking a balance—this isn’t possible without hearing both sides. If you don’t know how to effectively listen, potential clients will stop trying to communicate altogether.

The Importance of Listening

It’s in many peoples’ nature to talk too much when they’re nervous. Silence can feel uncomfortable during a negotiation, so negotiators strive to fill the silence with their own voice. Unfortunately, this habit gives clients the impression you aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. Instead of nervously filling conversation gaps with empty words, try to listen.

Studies show that people spend 60% of an average conversation talking about themselves. You is a subject you know and feel good about discussing. Reverse the situation, and realize your potential client would also like to spend 60% of the conversation talking about him or herself. Now you may understand why listening is often better than talking during a negotiation.

Talking about the self encourages feelings of motivation and reward. When you allow potential client to talk about their own needs, wants, and feelings, you’re encouraging these positive feelings. Truly listening to a client makes an enormous difference in how they perceive you and your company. Practice good listening techniques, and train your employees to do the same.

Practice Active Listening

True listening is active. It’s a dynamic process that involves acknowledgement, inquiry, and restatement. It’s not static listening while your potential client talks. Psychologist John M. Grohol describes active listening as a skill that “builds rapport, understanding, and trust.” He has a few tips on how to become a better listener:

  • Summarize what you’ve heard
  • Use brief conversation prompts to show you’re listening
  • Repeat things the client says in your own words
  • Ask probing questions to draw more information from the client
  • Take advantage of silence
  • Avoid distraction while the other person is talking
  • Provide feedback to clarify certain points

Active listening not only shows your client that you care about what he or she to say, but it will also ultimately allow you to respond to clients’ needs more thoroughly. Listening is a skill that requires constant practice to keep up. If you master effective listening techniques, you’ll engage more fully with clients and reap the benefits of their appreciation: new business.

How to Turn Your Sales Force Into Expert Negotiators

admin

0

Your company perfected your training process over years of trial and error. You’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, hitting all the fine points to create your industry’s next top negotiators. You’re probably proud of your training model and plan on using it for the foreseeable future. But you may be missing a major component: the art of teaching habits instead of just methods.

Habits: The Missing Link in Negotiations Training

When you’re under pressure, what’s the first thing you resort to? The answer is most likely habits, an instinctual reaction in stressful situations. During high-pressure negotiations, your meticulously trained sales force may forget the methods you taught them—but they won’t forget their own habits. You have the ability to mold their habits into ones that are beneficial to your company and geared toward closing a sale during negotiation.

Turning your sales force into expert negotiators takes more than giving them a list of best practices. You need to focus on the how to negotiate on top of the what to do during negotiations. Your sales team must be able to take client objections in stride without resorting to bad habits such as becoming embarrassed, backing down, or apologizing. Your sales team should enter negotiations with confidence, and habits that will help them succeed.

What Are the Best Negotiation Tools and Habits?

According to a recent article by Neil Patel on Forbes.com, the best negotiation habits to teach employees are those based around human interactions. In other words, habits stemming from body language, personal relationships, and good-natured discussion. At its core, negotiation is the art of convincing another person to agree with what you’re saying. When you establish a few simple habits for your employees to resort back to under pressure, you can enter a negotiation with relative certainty as to how personnel will react.

So what are the best negotiation habits to instill in your staff? Here are a few pointers to lead you in the right direction:

  • Engaging body language. For example, leaning into the conversation instead of leaning back in your chair can express openness and attention.
  • Keeping quiet. A common bad habit for many salespeople is to chatter when they feel stressed. Train your sales force to take the time to absorb information given to them, slow down, and keep responses calm instead of jumpy.

See if you can shape your staff’s habits to model the habits of confident, calm negotiators—and reap the benefits of cultivating a training process that focuses on the how and not just the what.

How to Sell to Businesses With These 4 Probing Questions

admin

0

The questions you ask during a sales pitch or negotiation can make or break your chance of success. Learning which questions to ask can give you and your sales team a better likelihood of getting the response you want. Asking probing questions during a negotiation is the most effective way to gain momentum, as it gives you the opportunity to learn more about your client and pitch to him or her in a way that hits home.

  1. Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are infinitely more powerful than closed questions. “Are you looking for a new supplier?” results in a situation wherein the client can only answer “yes” or “no.” It leaves no room for the detailed answer you need to make headway with a sale. “What are you looking for in a new supplier?” gives you room to push a sale even if the client didn’t know he or she needed a new supplier.

  1. Open Opportunity Questions

It’s important for you to give potential clients a say during a sales pitch. Although your company is the one doing the pitching, letting a client speak about what they want from you will let them know you’re listening and responding to their needs. Ask questions such as, “What do you think of this solution?” instead of “How about this solution?” to encourage them to give a detailed response. Listen to every part of the response, and use the information to your advantage.

  1. Loaded Questions

If you can skillfully execute a loaded question, it can subtly push potential clients in the desired direction. Ask questions that prompt certain responses, such as “How are you liking your current supplier?” Almost imperceptibly, you’re implying that there may be something wrong with your potential client’s current supplier. If you instead say, “Tell me how you like your new supplier,” you’re pushing the client towards a more positive response—leaving less room for you to show them how you’d be a better fit.

  1. Thought-Provoking Questions

We’ve saved the most important category for last: thought-provoking questions. Questions about your potential client’s thought process are probing enough to gauge insight into a person without prying. Ask a client to provide more detail about his or her process, or ask how he or she reached a certain conclusion. Let the client know you’re truly interested in what he or she has to say, and listen to his or her response carefully. When you ask deep, probing questions during a sales pitch, you establish yourself as an expert negotiator.