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Selling Your Business with Active Listening Techniques: Business Builders


Active listening is a structured approach to hearing and responding to other people. It requires focused attention and appropriate non-verbal communication. It’s a skill worth learning because it could help you land more business, or even identify better business prospects.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but active listening starts with visual observations. Research estimates that 85% to 90% of all communication is non-verbal, and that first impressions are made within seven seconds. Be aware that this non-verbal communication works both ways, too.

Take some pressure off yourself by focusing on the action of meeting the prospect, not the result of clinching a sale. The action is the only thing you can control.

Understand that emotions are contagious and use positive energy to your advantage.

Amy Cuddy, a social scientist at Harvard, has proven that striking a “power pose” for as little as two minutes dramatically changes your body’s biochemistry and physiology. Stand up straight with your hands on your hips. Head held high. Breathe deeply and focus on positive statements like “I’m going to rock this meeting.”

When you flood your body with positive emotions, the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body is reduced and the level of feel-good hormones, endorphins and dopamine, goes up. You’ll feel happier, more relaxed. Your body will be physically stronger.

When sitting down with your prospects, invite them to tell you how you might help them.

As you start your meeting, make sure there are no distractions; turn off your cell phone. Never check email or texts when you’re with someone; make them feel they have your full attention.

Ask their permission to take physical notes. Writing down what they say reinforces that it’s important and worth remembering.

Always ask open-ended questions that encourage them to talk. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. They should be talking 80% of the time; you’re there to listen.

As they speak, lean forward slightly. Maintain eye contact, but don’t stare. Mirror their head movements, facial and body gestures in a way that feels natural.

Active listening can help you spot a client who may not be a match for the services you are offering. Ask about any previous renovation experience. Horror stories about cost overruns, undue delays, rude contractors or other unpleasant experiences can be red flags.

Their words can tell you whether the problems were caused by the workers or by something beyond your control as a professional! Perhaps they changed plans in midstream, requested upgrades or made unreasonable requests. You can use this information to structure your quote to cover such eventualities, and to address their biggest concerns in your proposal. You may even choose to politely decline their project.

When discussing price, watch for what experienced interrogators call “tells”. Things like facial tics, dilated pupils, or sharp intakes of breath can alert you to potential issues.

Develop your active listening skills by trying some of the techniques above. We’d love to hear how they may have helped you build your business. Your colleagues will be “all ears”, too!