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  • “Your infrastructure is outdated.”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!

Learn more about FRONTLINE Selling.

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