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From the Desk of Steve Staccato

Active listening (Pt 3): How non-verbal cues affect sales discussions

Posted by Cherie Stowe

Aug 14, 2014 11:00:00 AM

client communication

 

Although many first sales appointments take place over the phone, if you have been following our Guide to Active Listening, chances are you've had a meaningful, successful interaction with your prospect and may have landed that deal-closing face-to-face meeting. To further aid you in your communication endeavors, FRONTLINE Selling CMO, Cherie Stowe, discusses the final component to active listening: non-verbal signals and how to use them to improve your conversations.

Body language is a large part of communication. Picking up on non-verbal cues can be vital to understanding meaning when having a discussion. Crossed arms can signal resistance. Someone who doesn't like the person sitting next to them tends to cross their legs away from that person. There are hundreds of examples of how body language conveys meaning. In a business setting, being able to portray and read body language can be the difference between winning a sale and tanking it. The following is a short list of non-verbal signs you can use or look for to gauge or reinforce active interest in what is being said.

  • Smiles - small smiles can be used to show that the listener is paying attention to what is being said. Combined with nods of the head, smiles can be a powerful tool in affirming messages are being acknowledged and understood.
  • Eye contact - it is normal and usually encouraging for the listener to look at the speaker. Combine eye contact with smiles and other non-verbal messages to encourage the speaker. If your prospect is looking at their phone or out the window, you have a problem. Change focus or bring them back into the fold by asking them a question.
  • Posture - posture can tell a lot about the sender and receiver in interpersonal interactions. The attentive listener tends to lean slightly forward or sideways while sitting.
  • Reflection - automatic mirroring of facial expressions used by the speaker can be a sign of attentive listening. These reflective expressions can help show sympathy and empathy, especially in emotional situations.

Using or looking for these non-verbal signs in face-to-face communications will not only help you to become a better communicator, but will help you build better overall relationships and enhance your sales success.

To learn more about the importance of interpersonal communication and how you can increase the number and quality of your first business conversations, contact the professionals at FRONTLINE Selling today. 

 

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Topics: Sales Meetings, Sales Calls, Sales Tips, Listening Tips, Active Listening, first sales appointments

Active listening (Part 2): Achieve sales goals through reflection

Posted by Cherie Stowe

Aug 7, 2014 1:00:00 PM

client communication

 

In the last installment of our guide to active listening, FRONTLINE Selling CMO, Cherie Stowe, wrote about the four fundamentals of active listening. In her latest post, she focuses on how to reflect content, feeling and meaning in order to let your prospect know you have heard what he/she is trying to convey.

The purpose of communication is to derive meaning, and the most immediate part of a speaker's message is the content -- in other words, those aspects dealing with information, actions, pains, events and experience. Reflecting, or mirroring, content back to the speaker not only helps to clarify what has been said but gives focus to the interaction. Reflecting the speaker's feelings and emotions brings them into sharper focus and uncovers what's underneath, allowing you to best diagnose how you can alleviate the pains your prospect may be experiencing.

There are two techniques built into active listening that will help accurately expose what the speaker wants you to hear: mirroring and paraphrasing.

Mirroring - this simple form of reflecting involves repeating what the speaker says near verbatim. The listener mirrors the degree of intensity of the speaker's emotions and pains by repeating short, simple statements.

For Example:

  • "You feel overworked by having to do things manually."
  • "Your infrastructure is outdated."
  • "You feel pressure to update your environment."

Paraphrasing - Another way to show that you are listening, this technique involves using your own words to reflect what the speaker has conveyed. When paraphrasing, it is of utmost importance that you don't introduce your own ideas or question the speaker's thoughts, feelings or actions. Your responses should be non-directive and non-judgmental.

  • "I heard that you are angry about the lack of progress being made on the project."
  • "You said IT has been stalling the decision-making process, and you wish you had more control."

Don't be concerned if you don't manage to get the feeling or message right. The speaker will correct you. For example, she may say, "I'm really feeling more frustrated than angry about the lack of progress." Getting the prospect to open up about pains and reflecting them back accurately can make all the difference when it comes to diagnosing the issue and offering the best solution. For more information about engaging your prospects, contact FRONTLINE Selling today.

Coming soon: The third installment of our series will focus on the non-verbal signs of active listening. Don't miss it!

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Topics: Sales Meetings, Sales Calls, Sales Tips, Listening Tips

Supercharge your sales with our 4-part guide to active listening

Posted by Cherie Stowe

Aug 6, 2014 10:30:00 AM

client communication

Active listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication. In this four-part series, FRONTLINE Selling CMO, Cherie Stowe, delves into what it takes to hone this invaluable life skill to become better at sales conversations and communicating in general.

What is active listening? Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively 'hearing' the message of the speaker. It's a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice. However, it can be challenging to master. It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, but once you learn and become adept at active listening, it becomes second nature. Your conversations will become more meaningful and you will begin to see more positive results in your interactions with others.

Below are four fundamentals of active listening:

  1. Learn to ask questions - Reflect and paraphrase to ensure you understand the speaker's message. If you don't, you will find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different.
  1. Remain neutral - Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental. Try not to take sides or form opinions, especially early on in the conversation.
  1. Patience is a virtue - Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there is a few seconds of silence. Pauses and short silences should be accepted. Many times the speaker will take a brief moment to gather his or her thoughts before continuing.
  1. Never interrupt - NEVER. It's a sign of disrespect and will only disrupt the natural flow of the conversation, lessening the chances of a positive outcome. You are essentially telling the speaker that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.

Sound easy? Think again. Active listening is not something that comes naturally. It's a disciplined process in which a conscious decision is made to truly listen in order to understand the messages of the speaker. Mastering it will open up doors and help you achieve your sales goals.

For more information on active listening and achieving your sales goals, contact FRONTLINE Selling today. And stay tuned for the second part of our series: Reflecting Content, Feeling and Meaning.

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Topics: Sales Meetings, Sales Calls, Sales Tips, Listening Tips

Ready To Go To Market? Are You Sure?

Posted by Steve Staccato

Jul 24, 2014 4:40:00 PM

SalesStrategyMore than one recent startup company has suffered because it failed to understand its ideal customer profile. Even the most experienced and star-studded company or product launch is doomed if it can't meet customer needs. What you need is a process for establishing a sales strategy that really works.

  • Study -  The first step in establishing a sales strategy is to clearly identify your ideal customer profile and learn everything possible about your target market, including existing products, processes and people. Study the competitive landscape and make sure you know the problem you're solving and why that matters to your target base.
  • Organize - Consider any existing sales and marketing plans and determine if and how they need to be tweaked. Identify your key performance metrics, market penetration requirements and roadmap. Analyze your sales approach, value proposition, customer needs and impact.
  • Launch - With your plan developed, it's now time to execute it. Make sure you have the right team in place to execute your plan. Create an effective sales team that knows how to create value for your potential customers and your company.
  • Measure - Here's where the numbers come into play. Don't abandon tactical details. Make sure your salespeople are delivering your message and performing the necessary tracking and reporting to ensure the execution you envisioned.

For more tips on establishing a sales strategy, please contact FRONTLINE Selling.

 

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Topics: Prospecting Tips

LinkedIn Prospecting: Tapping Into This Social Media Platform Can Uncover New Leads

Posted by Steve Staccato

Jul 11, 2014 9:00:00 AM

LinkedIn ProsepectingIf you’re in on the whole social media scene, you probably recognize how useful LinkedIn is for your professional pursuits. Have you tried marketing with LinkedIn yet? LinkedIn can help you obtain more clients and therefore more business revenue. While you can also target existing clients, let’s learn more about increasing your professional connections using LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn?

Do you remember the days before social media? Today there are a host of social media avenues to open new doors to reach potential prospects. LinkedIn is at your disposal and is one of the best platforms for convenient, easy and effective prospecting. Use it to reach people quickly and receive valuable feedback. These are the keys to building a foundation of professional credibility and trustworthiness.

Tactics for LinkedIn Prospecting

  • Create your profile - Fully complete your profile and be sure to include a professional profile picture.

 

  • Use keywords - What keywords and phrases are leading your industry? Do your homework and use the right keywords in everything you post to grab the attention of search engines and readers.

 

  • Follow proper LinkedIn etiquette - One expectation is that all your interactions are conversational, not promotional. The purpose of LinkedIn is to help prospects solve their problems as an industry expert, not to sell products then and there.

 

  • Get to know your prospects - What are their professional titles? What roles do they play in their businesses, and what do the businesses represent? Piece together all this information to help you reach out more effectively.

 

  • Leverage your close proximity - Get to know the physical location of all businesses you prospect with. This opens up the opportunity to interact with them at events in your area, which furthers your efforts to glean productive relationships.

 

  • Join LinkedIn Groups - You can join up to 50 groups or form your own for others to join. Both methods are critical for building relationships on this social media platform.

LinkedIn prospecting is just one way to look for leads and grow relationships. Contact FRONTLINE Selling today for more information about prospecting optimization. 

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Meet Steve Staccato
WB-Steve_Sitting_2

We are excited to introduce Steve Staccato, a very special friend of FRONTLINE Selling. 

He's a little prospecting genius and he'll share some prospecting tips, techniques and trends, not to mention other great information here on our blog.

So, stay tuned . . . you just never know what Steve has up his sleeve.  Oops, you're right.  Steve doesn't have any sleeves!

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