Over the last several months, Ashley Rist & Jon Plant have both addressed the importance of developing an effective call guide, not a script. The call guide is also an essential tool that is used when training and developing agents. It is important to achieve a balance between open & closed ended questions because this helps to reinforce the need for active listening when talking to a customer or prospect. It may or may not be appropriate to ask the next question depending on what the contact just told you. You have to be listening and interpreting the information in order to ask the most appropriate question.
Once you know what the customer challenges, needs and/or current situation looks like, you will be able to match the benefit to the contact. We refer to this as matching benefit to need. Our Resource Development Manager recently used this example and it seemed to resonate with our agents. You need to use our value statements as a toolbox. You wouldn’t dump out a toolbox and try to use every tool to fix a leaking faucet, right? In the same way, it is not effective to share every value statement, offer or solution on every call because much of what you say may not apply to the customer’s situation.
What is active listening?
Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener (the agent in this case) to understand and evaluate what they hear. This can help to build rapport, gives you a better understanding of the customer’s challenges and may also provide you with the information to make a recommendation and become a trusted advisor. The ability to listen actively can strengthen your relationship with the customer and ensures that you won’t miss opportunities.
A few tips to keep on track and actively listening…
- Don’t get distracted by thinking about other things or the next question you are going to ask! Have a natural conversation based on the information the contact shares with you.
- Try not to interrupt. If your customer wants to talk, let them! Sometimes they just need someone to listen and you may have a solution for them. Find a natural break in the conversation and store your questions away for when it is your turn.
- If you find your mind wandering, jot down a few notes to help jog your memory on what was discussed on the call. Highlight the key points but stay focused on the contact.
- Acknowledge and provide verbal cues that you are still with the customer and that you are actively listening such as “I understand”, “okay” etc.
- Practice makes perfect! After a few conversations are under your belt, you will get the hang of it. You’ll realize you are actually having more quality conversations and the potential for detecting a qualified opportunity is maximized