When someone says something to you, do you listen? I don’t mean do the words pass through your hearing canal, but do you listen to them? Do you allow the words to enter your brain and form a clear vision of what is being said to you? If you haven’t put this much thought into this, then there is a very good chance you aren’t listening to the things people are saying and losing out on countless opportunities to make quality connections.

If you don’t listen to your customer you won’t be able to react accurately. For example, if you have a smile pasted on your face as you write a credit application thinking it will make you look friendly, but your customer is talking about a terrible event in his/her life that landed them in the credit situation that they are in, how does this make you look?

If you aren’t listening, then you aren’t hearing, if you aren’t hearing, the you run the risk of missing some very important information that a customer could give you.

I was in a bookstore last week looking for a new e-Reader. I was prepared to drop whatever amount of money I needed to to have a high quality reader that would enable me to store loads of books but was easy on the eyes. I went to the service counter and explained to the sales rep that I’m a digital media specialist and I spend all day looking at a computer so I wasn’t looking for something with app download ability. I get enough Facebook and Twitter all day.

She then showed me the Kindle Fire.


If you’re not familiar, the Kindle Fire is basically an iPad for books. You can have apps, and it’s in color.

Did she listen to me? Was this a joke? I know she was probably trying to upsell me. She wanted more bang for my buck.

I walked over to another sales person. I ended up getting a modest e-Reader for $99 but $200 worth of download credits for myself and grandmother.

Same money spent that the sales person was trying to get me to spend – just spread out on things that I wanted.

I was the customer.

This made me think about myself in sales situations. When someone sends me an e-mail asking for information about one thing, do I try and slip a sales pitch in?


But am I sure to answer all of their questions first? Absolutely.

You don’t have to guess what your customer wants. They’ll tell you. It’s up to you to listen.

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Comment by Katie Colihan on April 25, 2012 at 4:42pm

As always, Miss Nancy, I appreciate you and love sharing little tid bits with you!

Comment by Katie Colihan on April 25, 2012 at 4:41pm

Ralph, I' like the LAER approach, I find myself sometimes forgetting to listen, and realizing that conversations are truly a 2 way street. Responding comes LAST, and so many people disregard that. Thanks for your expert input. Love it!

Comment by Katie Colihan on April 25, 2012 at 4:40pm

Bobby, thanks! Motivational Listening. Incredible. While I can't fault salesmen from being excited to use the new sales word or technique, another art is learning WHEN to use it. Definitely not when the customer is trying to invest trust in you. 

Comment by Katie Colihan on April 25, 2012 at 4:39pm

Thanks, Ryan! I agree. I think some people get uncomfortable with the silence of no one speaking. As in, the moment where the customer is just processing information, almost waiting for you to make some kind of off-beat comment. Honoring that silence is key. When you think you can't listen, listen more! 

Comment by Ryan Gerardi on April 23, 2012 at 1:01pm

Katie you sum this up nicely at the end when you say, "You don’t have to guess what your customer wants. They’ll tell you. It’s up to you to listen." People like to talk about themselves. A good salesperson asks the right questions.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 23, 2012 at 12:07am

Katie, I enjoyed your article a lot... Thank you.  Several years ago I attended a week of training where the central focus was communication and listening skills.  One of the lessons I was taught, and still struggle to master to this day, is the listening strategy known by the acronym of "LAER" which stands for: Listen, Acknowledge, Explore and Respond... The emphasis is that we do not earn the right to respond to a customer until after we have listened to them, acknowledged that what they are saying is important, then explored with appropriate questions... After the first three, we get to form a qualified response.

Comment by NANCY SIMMONS on April 21, 2012 at 4:02pm

Nice job, Katie...and YES...I listened to everything you had to say!  I think the worst scenario is when a SP is just worrying about the "word tracks" and what they are going to say next, that they don't really "listen" to the needs of the consumer... They are hearing...but not "listening"!  Great share!!!

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