As a driver of revenue for your business, you are wise to spend a lot of time thinking about how you can convert more phone calls to booked revenue. While instinctively you may think that being a better talker will lead to better results, the reality is that being a better listener is really what you should be focused on. And here’s why…
According the FBI, there are five steps to getting someone to see your point of view in order to change what they are doing. These steps were developed by the FBI’s hostage negotiation unit, and they are used today by some of the best negotiators in the world (so certainly they will work for us!). Here’s the five steps:
1. Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
2. Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel.
3. Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
4. Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem solving with them and recommend a course of action.
5. Behavioral Change: They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)
Sounds simple enough, right? Conceptually, yes – but becoming a good listener doesn’t happen overnight. We are all creatures of habit, and most of us have spent our entire lives trying to be heard instead of listening to what others are saying.
As children we screamed until our parents gave us what we wanted — and as adults we’ve shared our opinions with all that would listen. That is why most people who answer phones skip over steps 1, 2 and 3, and go right to step 4. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for disaster in any inbound conversion process.
So make the shift now to becoming a better listener. When your callers are talking, pay close attention to what is being said and acknowledge that you are listening by using brief comments like “ok,” “yes,” and “I understand.” Then repeat back the gist of what the caller has said and demonstrate empathy at all times. Never interrupt or argue with your callers, in order to get them to listen to your perspective, you are going to need to have built rapport with them — and that only happens when the caller trusts that you are not judging them.
Once you have earned the rapport of the caller, you have then earned the right to provide solutions. If your solutions make enough sense to the caller, they will reward you by agreeing to take action — and the net result is a successful conversion of the phone call. That’s it in a nutshell.
So start each day by focusing on becoming a better listener — and over time you will find that you are experiencing far greater results while using fewer words to get them!