At the risk of dating myself, I’d like to bring Jerry Seinfeld into the discussion. Remember the low talker, high talker and close talker? For those who are too young to remember the Seinfeld references, there is actually an online Seinfeld dictionary to offset this handicap.The low talkers, high talkers and close talkers set a certain pace or tone to their conversations, often confusing, baffling or upsetting their chosen conversation partner. The person with whom the low, close or high talker is chatting often sticks his heels in the mud, refusing to match the chosen style of communication, and very little is accomplished by an exchange between the two as a result.
Let’s turn Seinfeld’s world on the axis of cold calling – what if the conversation partner listens intently before speaking, internalizes and mirrors the low talker’s style, therefore validating the low talker and making him feel understood? Yes, this process is called active listening. I’m sure that you have come across the phrase before, as its soaring popularity began in the 1990’s, but have we really internalized it in terms of the sales process? We have all been coached at one point or another by either a trained therapist or a friend who thinks he’s a trained therapist to listen actively. There are several rules that apply here (in my case, it’s the friend who thinks he’s a trained therapist, but admittedly, I’ve learned a lot and haven’t had to pay $200/hour):
- Instead of simply waiting for your turn to speak, turn your full attention and focus on what your conversation partner is trying to convey
- IGNORE your objective for the time that your potential client is speaking – actually allow yourself to get lost in their point
- Mirror your potential client’s style and pace to the conversation. This will make him more comfortable (He’s a low talker? Guess what! YOU are a low talker too.)
- In addition to his style of actual speech, try to mirror his attitude – is he casual? Stiff? Articulate? Does he say “dude”? Be a chameleon and match your style to his.
- Rephrase and repeat back to him what he had to say – this confirms that you really did internalize his point, and it validates him, making him feel understood
As much as the low-talkers of the world have a tendency to push us over the edge, and perhaps we wouldn’t befriend them personally, when they are the potential client, we must adapt. Active listening can be productive in every area of life, up to and including your sales process!