Let me ask you a question that might make you a tad uncomfortable: if you’re really honest, how often do you find your mind wandering during conversations? If you find that more often than not, you’re just waiting for your turn to talk instead of actually, really listening, you’re definitely not alone … on average, people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves!
While this is just rude during personal conversations, it’s a killer when it comes to sales conversations, where listening isn’t just polite — it’s the foundation of any sale. So if you’re thinking right about now that you need to brush up your listening skills, then try using one of my favourite tools, the HLUA method.
What’s the HLUA method?
During conversations, we tend to respond reflexively as soon as the other person is finished talking. But if you want to really listen, you need to do four things before you even think about responding.
Hear: Physically take in the sound. This means that you need to stay focused on the person speaking instead of looking at your phone or tuning them out because you think you know what they’re going to say. It also means that you need to make sure you’re in an environment where you can hear them well — if you can’t physically hear what they’re saying very well, it’s going to be really hard to actually listen to them.
Listen: This is a step up from hearing; it means that you bring empathy into the picture and really try to listen to what the other person is saying, all the while considering their perspective. Don’t forget to pay attention to their body language and tone of voice too: they account for 93% of communication!
Understand: After you’ve heard someone and listened to them, you need to confirm your understanding of what was said with the other person. Why? Because it’s really easy to misinterpret something based on your own assumptions or a mistaken understanding of someone else’s map. By confirming what was said with the other person, you not only demonstrate to them that you’re listening, which is hugely honouring, it also helps you avoid responding based on a mistaken belief.
Acknowledge: Let the other person know that you’re on the same wavelength and that you’re paying attention. This can be as simple as nodding or saying “uh huh” or “go on”. It’s all about showing the other person that you care so you can build rapport and keep the conversation going.
Then and only then should you think about responding. Why? By the time you’ve gone through this process you’ll have made sure that you have a true, clear picture of what the other person is saying, thinking, and feeling, so you’ll be able to respond based on solid information rather than your fleeting assumptions and impressions … not to mention you’ll have a much better picture of their map and needs, all of which will make it much, much easier for you to close the sale.
So give it a try during your next sales conversation, and let us know how it goes!