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Sales Make it Happen

What Is Listening?

The best definition of listening I ever heard was this: "Listening is not doing anything that interferes with listening." If you are truly interested in listening to what your conversational partner is saying, you will simply listen. At first, this may sound strange, but if you'll consider its implications, it is an extraordinary statement.

Last week we talked about finding yourself alone, in the center of a dark forest in the middle of the night. Imagine how you would listen intently, with every fiber in your body, You would be on high-alert, the equivalent of DEFCON 1, the military's highest alert status. Nothing could distract you from your predicament and the awareness of your surroundings. In fact, this heightened sense of awareness would involve all your senses - your ability to listen, to see, to smell, to feel and perhaps even to taste danger.

With this heightened alertness, and sensitivity to your surroundings, you would be prepared to react - instantaneously - to any emergency, threat or opportunity. Any moment of inattentiveness could mean a loss of your ability to respond to an emergency or threat, or to take advantage of an opportunity.

You would not allow distractions of any kind that might threaten your security. It's not likely, for example, that you would casually gather wood to build a fire, or give much thought to the blackberries you'd like to pick for tomorrow's breakfast. You would, instead, continue listening intently and employing all your senses for clues that might threaten or guarantee your survival.

Think about applying this behavior model to your sales interactions. Instead of thinking ahead about your response to the comments of your conversational partner, or formulating the perfect follow-up question, what might happen if you simply listened to your partner? What might happen if you allowed yourself to remain on DEFCON 1 alert status during your interactions with customers?

If you remember anything you've read here I hope you'll remember this: "Listening is not doing anything that interferes with listening." Next week we'll take a look at the myriad activities that not only interfere with listening , but actually prevent real listening.

--- from the desk of a retired, successful leasing company president.