Pssst. Lean in. I wanna tell you a little secret and it works better if you’re closer to the screen. Go ahead. I’ll wait….
Okay, you ready?
Your buyers don’t really want to hear what you have to say. Well, maybe they do…but not until you hear what they have to say.
Here’s the biggest problem, though: They don’t know what to say. They need your help to get it off of their heart and into their mind and out of their mouth.
The person who helps couples articulate what they’re feeling and thinking is the one who wins the business more times than not.
That makes you a professional translator
And what’s the first thing a translator does? Listens. You have to hear – really really reallyyy hear – what your buyers and clients are telling you. It’s not as easy as you think. You have to do these things, generally in order, and do them all well.
1. Pay attention
Not just partial, but FULL attention. You’ve got to be 100% present in the moment.
Here are some things to do that help make that possible over the phone and in-person:
Block more than enough time
Find a fully private space
Turn off your phone’s notifications
Don’t sit in front of your computer while it’s on
Take notes with a pen and paper
2. Listen to what and how
The words people say are about as important as the way they say them. If you want to get really good at making couples feel heard you’ve got to notice the tone in their voices, the pauses during the conversation, the volume they use, the pace at which they speak.
All the things, not just the words.
3. Don’t judge
Yes, you, judgy-judgerton. You listen to a couple tell you about their ideas and then you’re like, “What. The…Are you kidding me?” Or you think, “That’s not an original idea to make your wedding unique. I’ve seen that three times this month!” Or, “Let me educate you (on how ignorant you are) about this thing (you have never done before).”
Stop that. Listen. Learn. Accept what they have to say as being the best they know at this time. Then work through it with them to get the results they want.
One of the best active listening techniques is to drill into what your couple is saying. For example, let’s say you’re a floral designer and you’re talking with a potential couple who says they want their wedding to be “romantic.” Ooooooh. Sounds great. You can do romantic.
But what does romantic mean to her? To him? And is that different from what it means to you.
So, ask a simple follow-up question: “What does ‘romantic’ mean to you?” or “Tell me more about what ‘romantic’ looks like when it comes to flowers.”
Doing this not only gets you the information you need (good for you) but also makes your couple fee heard (good for them and you).
When you put all these things together you’re likely to get the real needs behind the wants they first come to you with. You’ve paid attention to what they said, listened for the underlying motivation without judgement, and clarified what they’re telling you. Nice.
But before you move on you want to make sure you’ve got it all right. Like the clarifying request paraphrasing does multiple things at the same time – for you and your potential couple.
Makes sure you’ve got an accurate understanding of the information
Embeds it in your minds as you say it again
Shows them (again) they’re feeling heard and understood
6. Stay interested
When others talk are you listening, or thinking about what you’re going to say next? Uh-huh. Thought so. You’re probably thinking about it as you’re reading this sentence right now. How many times do you keep reading the words but all the while you’re not actually processing them? I know sometimes I have to go back and re-read entire paragraphs…
Well, it’s the same with conversations – but you usually don’t ask people to repeat what they just said. Instead, you just nod your head and pretend like you heard it and try to infer from what they’re saying now what they said a second ago.
So stay interested. Tune in to every word they’re telling you. Don’t get in your head. Wait a moment to respond after they stop talking.
If you do, they’ll notice a difference in you as a potential vendor.
And you’ll notice a difference in your conversion rates.