Are you really listening?
When a prospect or client is talking to you, are you listening? The truth is, most of us aren’t. Yes, you are hearing a tumble of words whispering in your ears, but that doesn’t mean you are actually listening to what’s being said.
Listening is Important
70 - 80% of our day is comprised of listening. That’s almost the entirety of your day. This is why listening is so incredibly important. I don’t mean listening as in hearing the words. I mean actively listening, feeling, understanding and interpreting the words. The University of Colorado defines active listening as:
“A way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding.”
Actively listening is essential when your job involves conversation and communication with clients/prospects—the job description of an insurance agent. In fact, according to Symmetry Financial Group, it’s the number attribute you need in sales.
Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
As I stated above, listening is vital in insurance selling. Here are some easy ways you can quickly improve your listening skills to grow your client-base and improve your client experience.
First things first, silence your phone. I know you have other things going on besides just meeting with that one client/prospect, but nothing is more distracting or rude than being on your phone during a meeting. From there, limit any other distractions that might detract from the meeting and take your attention away; you can close blinds, shut the door to your office, or turn off any music. Do what you must to create a calm atmosphere that will push you to be attentive and present in the meeting.
This is one of the easiest things you can do to gain respect from your client/prospect. Making eye contact will show the client/prospect that you are truly listening, analyzing, and thinking of possible solutions. It can be difficult and awkward at first, but I promise you, it’ll better your sales game.
“Supporters who are effective listeners provide more direct eye contact, are receptive to disclosures, and ask more follow-up questions” International Listening Association
Don’t respond immediately.
Take a couple of seconds when they’re done, count to five in your head, then respond. Your clients will feel like you’re actually listening to them and contemplating what they are saying. A quick response implies that you had a pitch ready in your head regardless of what they were going to say.
This is mistake number #1. First, they’ll lose respect for you. Second, they’ll feel like what they have to say and their opinions aren’t important to you. Interrupting will quickly lead to a lost opportunity for you. You don’t like being interrupted, right?
Don’t go on the defense.
If your client is stating something that doesn’t align with what you believe, you don’t need to rebuff and state your opinion. Listen, count to five, and then continue with a solution-based conversation. You shouldn’t be trying to convince them of your opinions; you should be trying to help them find the solutions that fit THEIR needs.
Listen for what’s not said.
Spoken messages are like icebergs; only the peak is seen, all the rest is hidden and implied.
“In a spoken message, 55% of the meaning is translated non-verbally, 38% is indicated by the tone of voice, while only 7% is conveyed by the words used” International Listening Association
You should be watching and listening for how they are saying what they’re saying, what they’re not saying, and what they’re saying with their non-verbals. Tuning yourself in to these conversation aspects will help you understand your clients better and their needs, and build a stronger agent-client relationship.
The Agent's Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Successful Agency
Combine listening skills with other traits to become a stellar salesperson. Learn more about this and other ways to grow your book of business into a successful business.