It’s great news when an agent or advisor agrees to speak to you about the products and services you offer. It can mean they are willing to tell you everything you need to know to offer them products that they will be interested in offering to their clients. You might only need to listen.
However, if you are the extroverted type, giving another person free reign to talk could be a challenge. Unfortunately, learning to hold your tongue is actually the easy part. Effective listening requires commitment and active mental engagement.
Before anything else, resolve to put customer needs first. It won’t help your concentration if half your brain (or more) is focused on what you want to get out of the exchange. Once you have the proper mindset, divide your active listening skills into two parts: Information Gathering and Understanding.
Information Gathering 🗞️
Agents and advisors have the information you need. Remove any impediments to receiving all the insights that are available to you.
- Put your agenda aside – Eliminate any pre-conceived notions about what you should market to the agent or advisor so you can accurately match your products with their needs… after you have all of the information.
- Be encouraging – Make the agent or advisor feel appreciated by outwardly demonstrating your interest.
- Respect their train of thought – Politely set aside witty comments or “that reminds me” stories you may be tempted to interject. Otherwise, the agent or advisor might forget something important that he or she wanted to say.
- Let them finish – Be careful not to cut someone off. To be safe, pause for a moment after they have (apparently) finished speaking.
Ensure a meeting of the minds by striving to fully comprehend everything an agent or advisor says. As a bonus, your effort to understand will reassure agents and advisors that you were paying attention.
- Say back what you heard – Repeating agents’ and advisors’ words ensures you didn’t mishear anything. Plus, the exercise helps you commit those words to memory. Because words may mean different things to different people, try paraphrasing as well.
- Ask questions – If you don’t quite grasp what an agent or advisor is telling you, let them help you understand. Follow-up inquiries also allow you to better assess which products will best serve an agent’s or advisor’s needs.
- Summarize – Finally, here is your chance to talk! Just remember that “brevity is the soul of wit.” Be sure to capture in your summary what you took to be the agent’s or advisor’s biggest concern or point of interest. Ask for confirmation that you “got it right.”
Make Active Listening an All-the-Time Habit 👂
You may not always be able to close a sale, no matter how good a listener you are. Yet, by diligently employing active listening skills with all your prospective agents or advisors, you will be better prepared to make the most of true sales opportunities when they arise.
Would you like to read more about this topic? The following links provided the source material for this article: Be a Better Listener (NY Times); Active Listening Skills (Psychology Today); Selling is One of the Most Important Business Skills (Forbes).
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/be-a-better-listener (March 2019)