Listen like you’re blind

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by Kelly Kramer

Growing up as an army brat, you might say I had to learn to adapt.

In fact, throughout my K-12 and college years, I attended one school per year. So change in my life was something I simply had to roll with. The big negative on my end was, and is, that I don’t read anything for pleasure. My reading is done simply as they say, on a need to know basis. So, if I need to know something for an article or for work, I dig deep and become highly educated on that subject.

My family constantly reminds me of a story about me in grade school. As the story is told, my mom was called to a parent-teacher conference because of my unwillingness to read a book for class. When my mom returned home, she asked me why I refused to read this book. My answer was, “Because we won’t be here when this book is done.”

The funny part was that I was correct in that assumption. Even though I did turn out to be a pretty good B average student throughout my school career, it was not because of my reading comprehension.

What I did do well was listen to my teachers. If that teacher was very good in class, I got A’s; if the teacher relied on the book to do the teaching, I got C’s. Over time, I learned to take classes I heard had good in-class instructors.

This is why people that know me well were amazed when I started to get published as a writer/author. As it turned out, the reason most people like my style of writing is because I write like I speak. I don’t write to have proper structure or grammar, for that matter. For people who want to write as a living it drives them crazy. They’ve spent their lives learning proper English and grammar only to write in a boring style.

The positive that my poor reading history did for me was to make me an excellent listener. It forced me to take audio information and process it in what I call plain English. It’s kind of like when you lose one of your senses (like sight) your other ones get stronger. My blindness to reading literally made me a good listener by necessity.

You’d think I’d be embarrassed about my poor reading and spelling abilities, but I now realize they allowed me to find a niche as a writer and sales advisor. You might say spell check and my awesome editors at FCNews are my very best friends.


Close your eyes

The real art of listening is to first ask the right questions. So often on my training trips to stores I hear salespeople “selling.” They have been trained on methods of how to lead a prospective buyer to a quick hard sell.

Many are taught to not listen. They listen only enough to “overcome the objection and close.” They tell the buyer only what is needed and keep trying to close the deal. My point is you should only tell the buyer things that will help her make the proper purchase for her given situation. I call this becoming a student of your buyer. Use your customer interview skills to let her speak about her situation. Then listen like you’re blind.

Customers are not a book to be conquered; they are people who need to be understood. Then when you have really heard them, you simply explain in plain English how you have the best product for their situation. Price objections go away when you ask, listen like you’re blind and sincerely advise.

Thanks for reading.

See my ad in the classifieds section on page 22.

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