Monday, June 14, 2010

Business Development Mistake #7 - Talking Instead of Listening

After you ask a Client or prospect a question, it is imperative that you listen actively. Active listening means devoting your full attention to what the Client says without interruption. Just a hint, you cannot listen actively while thinking about what you are going to say next - or while talking. 

One of the traps some people fall into is treating a Client needs interview like a verbal tennis match. After serving up a really great question, they immediately start positioning themselves for the next volley by thinking about what they’re going to say next. If you’re doing this, you aren’t devoting 100% of your attention to the Client. While people sometimes think that this will convey that they are prepared and polished, in reality, it prevents you from connecting with Clients - and could even cause you to miss opportunities to understand and address their needs. 

The way to know if you are listening actively during a Client needs interview is that you should find yourself talking only about 20% of the time - and half of that time you should be asking questions. OK, I admit that like many lawyers, math was not my strong suit, but I know what some of you are thinking and before you ask, yes I am aware that this only leaves 10% of the time for you to talk. And yes, I know this can be challenging. But if you are able to do it, the payback can be significant: Clients will perceive you as genuinely interested in them, their businesses and their needs... and you will be positioned as the best person to help them.  

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