Responding to what a customer is saying word-for-word can often create false expectations. This result is especially true during the sales process and can lead to the incorrect notions of blue skies, intimate dining, and endless availability; just to name a few of the pitfalls.
Proactive listening is a great way to help a seller verbally paint an honest, personalized picture of the product or experience. If you listen with the goal of combining what is said with what is not said by the customer – you can add clarity and true value to their purpose.
Establishing a rock-solid relationship of trust at the onset is vital. Shifting the focus from the product to the customer’s success is key. By developing trust, you’ve earned the right to clarify, recommend & endorse. This is where the proactive magic begins.
- Take your top ten customer requests – listen to what is said verbatim.
- Then listen to the same requests and identify level of experience demonstrated by the customer – Expert? Intermediate? Beginner? If the customer is a long-term one, their requests come from a place of a high level of knowledge about your product – they are probably pretty close to accurate. If a customer is new, their request or concern may come from a place of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about what you offer.
- Using your product knowledge, put yourself in their shoes. If they are not an expert, what don’t they know or what’s not being said that will enhance the experience? What can you do to proactively help them be more successful?
There are many wonderful byproducts that emerge when you create a proactive listening culture. My favorite is “Up Selling” - If you think about it - Up Selling is simply introducing a customer to something they may have not known existed! An expert customer may ask you for an upgrade to a suite when they bring along a spouse or family because they know you have one. A beginner customer will only mention their party is larger is normal, they may not know you have a suite that would better suit their needs. Ask questions and proactively listen.
Proactively find out what’s really important - Happy Customers, Happy Business.