Tips & Talk 55 – Are You Missing this Critical Selling Skill?

In this episode I give you 5 tips to get your listening skills up to par.

Listening is a skill that seems so elementary but is often completely ignored. The next time you’re engaged in a conversation, observe your own behavior to check in on your listening skills. Sure, you may be hearing what someone says, but are you really listening?

Unfortunately, what often happens is we’re so busy figuring out what we want to say next that we miss subtle cues that, if not taken into account in your response, affect the entire interaction.

Not listening leaves the person talking feeling misunderstood and not valued. If this is a potential customer, you just lost the sale.

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Transcript
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Hi there.

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It's Sue.

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And thanks for joining me for tips and talk day.

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These are bite-sized topics that I pull from community questions and

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things that I'm observing in the world of handmade small business.

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If you'd like to submit a topic,

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DME, over on Instagram at gift biz unwrapped,

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A few weeks ago,

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I was in Boulder to visit family.

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One afternoon was spent on Pearl street,

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which is a favorite of mine.

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A portion of Pearl street is pedestrian only,

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but in addition to all the great restaurant options,

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brand name and local boutiques,

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there's also street entertainment,

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musicians, acrobats,

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mimes, jugglers,

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characterised you get the idea an important stop for us.

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This trip was the Liberty puzzle shop.

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My stepdaughter is the one who turned me on to this

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local business,

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and I wanted to treat us both to a new puzzle.

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These puzzles are really special.

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They consist of laser cut wooden pieces in shapes,

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more intricate than your normal cardboard version.

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Nothing against those mind you,

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but these Liberty puzzles are really extraordinary.

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Also, depending on the size of your puzzle,

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20 to 40 pieces of each puzzle,

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I'm guessing on the number here,

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take on the theme of the image.

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So if it's a puzzle of an outside bistro,

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let's say you may have puzzle pieces that are shaped like

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a fork or a bottle of wine,

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a flower centerpiece,

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things like that.

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Anyway, as I said,

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it's very special.

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When we walked through the door,

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we were welcomed and then left to our own devices.

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We took a lot of time going through the shop and

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looking at all the options as we consider different puzzles and

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just generally enjoyed our shopping time together.

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The store attendees were always available to answer questions,

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ready to engage in small talk.

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If we initiated a conversation,

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but otherwise left us to enjoy our experience.

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The shop had several interactive things you could do besides select

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and buy their products too.

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It all made for a very pleasant visit.

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And we walked out puzzles in hand,

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happy and ready to continue on to another fun encounter.

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The next store we entered,

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drew us in because of the light fixtures we could see

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through the window,

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all handmade overseas.

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They had lamps of vibrant color glass with spectacular shapes and

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textures that played off the light.

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So beautifully.

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Again, we were welcomed into this store by a shop attendee.

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As we walked around,

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this was right on our heels,

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giving details of every single item we looked at explaining how

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she would offer free shipping,

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that she had various sizes of certain things.

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Also telling us the price of each and every lamp.

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We hadn't even asked her.

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Any questions,

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mind you.

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She just kept talking.

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It got to the point where we didn't even want to

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pick up or look at anything else because we were afraid

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we'd activate her detailed information lecture.

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Once again,

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we couldn't get out of that shop.

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Fast enough.

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This shop owner literally chased us away by not listening to

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the reason for our visit,

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which at first was only to look around and ponder the

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options. Instead,

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what she did was forced her own objective,

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which was to sell something,

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anything. The result was the opposite of what she wanted.

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And she missed out on a pretty significant lamp sale by

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not listening and responding appropriately.

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Listening is a skill that seems so elementary,

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but is often completely ignored.

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The next time you're engaged in a conversation.

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I want you to observe your own behavior to check in

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on your listening skills.

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Sure. You may be hearing what someone says,

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but are you really listening?

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What's the message they're trying to relay.

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Does their body language coincide with their words?

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Are you sensing emotion,

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by the way,

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they're emphasizing certain words or with the faces that they make.

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All of these things should be taken into consideration before forming

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your response.

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We do this naturally just by the way,

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we've learned to communicate.

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You have to truly be listening and observing to capture it.

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Unfortunately, what often happens.

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And I raised my hand as being guilty too,

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is we're so busy figuring out what we want to say

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next, that we miss subtle clues and these clues,

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if not taken into account in your response affect your entire

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interaction, it leaves the person feeling misunderstood,

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not heard and not valued.

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If this is a potential customer,

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you've just lost the sale,

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which is exactly what happened in my description of being in

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the lamp shop earlier,

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have you ever listened to an interview where the response being

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given leads to an obvious follow-up question,

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but instead of going deeper into the topic,

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the interviewer asks about something else entirely unrelated.

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It's like they're reading off a list of questions that they

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want to get through,

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which they probably are,

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but in doing so they've missed a much richer conversation.

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So given all this,

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here are five tips to help you get your listening skills

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up to par.

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First, as I've already mentioned,

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focus on your customer and what they're actually trying to tell

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you. This includes their words and behavior.

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Secondly, avoid forming your response before your customer's done talking.

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You may assume,

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you know what they're saying,

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because you've heard some of this before,

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when they may be really trying to tell you something entirely

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different. Then if the information is detailed,

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repeat back to them,

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what you think they just said.

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So they have the opportunity to correct your understanding.

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If they need to then ask follow-up questions,

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to get more detail,

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if appropriate.

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If someone says your candles are beautiful,

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but it's not what I'm looking for.

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You can respond with.

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Okay? I understand.

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So you've eliminated the pressure to buy,

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but then you could ask further questions.

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Could you help me out for the future?

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What's missing that you were looking for this information can be

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a goldmine for product creation.

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Perhaps your candles are too heavily scented for them or the

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size of your candles.

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Isn't in line with what they needed or any other vital

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piece of information that if they walked away without this extended

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conversation, you never would have known as a side note here.

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When you do get product feedback,

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that doesn't mean you automatically immediately turn around and adjust or

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add to your product offerings.

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What you've just received as a data point in your research.

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But if the same comment keeps coming up multiple times,

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then it's something to consider.

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Finally, in this list of five listening tips,

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thank them for any feedback that was given.

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I look at comments,

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positive and negative as a real gift.

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Hearing opinions directly from your customers is much more accurate and

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valuable than you guessing what's on their mind.

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Listening does something else for you too.

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We're talking today about listening in relation to selling your products,

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but it's obviously important in personal interactions too.

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When you listen well and respond appropriately,

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the other person feels seen and you've demonstrated that their contribution

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to the conversation is important and valued.

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Don't underestimate these feelings.

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It can make great things happen,

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increased sales,

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deeper connections,

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and so much more.

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That's a wrap.

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I'm a get to the point kind of girl.

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And this is what you can expect from these quick mid-week

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sessions. Now it's your turn go out and fulfill that dream

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of yours.

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Share your handmade products with us.

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