609-664-7955 gcaruso@artofbv.com

Improved listening will Improve Your Leadership and Sales Results Improving Business Value

Roberto constantly meets with prospects and in machine gun fashion proceeds to tell them why he is the best tax accountant (you could put contractor, banker, auto shop….) and how he will save them money. Most politely listen and then, after 45 minutes to an hour politely find a way to leave the meeting without a full proposal or commitment to work with him.

Contrast this with Cynthia who briefly explains that she would like to address the prospect’s specific needs therefore it is best for her to start with some questions. She then proceeds to ask questions and listen in order to carefully assess their needs, budget, likely competitors in order to put together a succinct plan of action to address their specific problem. Most of her meetings result in an engagement.

Clearly an effective sales increases business value by improving the resiliency of the company.

Below is Cynthia’s secret to success –

Listening is a lost skill.  It is through listening that we can truly understand others.   People long to be listened to therefor effective listening will improve all your relationships and increase your value and your business value to your clients and others important to you. 

What we think we “know” often gets in the way of true understanding.   This happens in our businesses and in all parts of our lives.  For instance, every now and then my assistant comes to me with a great idea, yet I “know” she is going to have a complaint, usually about technology.  My knowing does not help either of us. Do situations like this happen to you?

A few steps to listen better:

  1.  Recognize that you have a “view.”  Sort of like if you put pink glasses on.  For a while everything seems pink.  Then you get used to it and do not see it but it is there.  That is one version of a view.  My knowing as explained above is another version of a view. We all have views of everyone we “know” and almost instantly of everyone we meet.
  2. Consciously let your view go.  While doing this take 3 deep breaths and exhale slowly.
  3. Ask your question or let the other person speak.
  4. When they speak just listen to them very intently.  Do not think about your next question or your response.  Just listen.
  5. While listening note the tone of their voice, their body language, and facial expressions.  Pay attention to what is being said and what is not being said.
  6. One more time – Listen to the answer carefully.  Do not be thinking about your next question.  Your next question will be better if it comes directly out of the answer just given.  You can take a moment or two and think between questions.  It will be interpreted as you are really listening and absorbing.  Everyone likes being listened to.
  7. Seek the answer behind the answer.  What is really driving the results you see?  What could change those results positively and negatively? The child’s question, “why” is remarkably powerful for digging deeper.

Listening attentively means that besides noting the response, summarize, paraphrase, and ask new open ended questions to draw out answers.  If an issue is emotional in nature, empathize.  Work with the person.  Develop a relationship that will foster greater openness with you. 

This listening skill takes an incredible amount of effort if it is not your habit.  But, if you practice and train and become good at listening you will improve all your relationships including leadership and sales raising your value to all. This will improve both your personal value to your clients and your business value.

This is paraphrased from, “The Art of Business Valuation, Accurately Valuing A Small Business”, Gregory R. Caruso, © 2020 John Wiley & Sons.