Use the Lost Art of Listening to Close Business for Life

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

"What are you feeling right now?" you ask, leaning in with genuine interest. As the person responds, you nod thoughtfully as you actively listen.

Do your clients or prospective clients feel this heard by you? We are living in an age when being truly listened to by another human being is becoming increasingly sacred. As we all dash through life, we are quick to glance at our phones while our loved ones talk. We half-listen while sending a text message while sales people and cashiers try to help us. If you are only in the career to hear a problem you can quickly fix with a product, you are missing the opportunity to build a lasting, profitable relationship.

As a Financial Representative (FR), you are giving each prospective client a genuine gift if you give them your full attention and engage them during meetings. People love to be listened to by another person. It is a deep, instinctual need to feel heard and validated by another. Our ancestors had lots of people to listen to them since they lived in close-knit family units and engaged with their communities to help each other. Even more generations ago--before today's advanced technology, sharing stories brought people together and fostered relationships.

Today, most humans living in the United States are parched for human connection. FRs at Northwestern Mutual care very much about helping others. Give the gift of engagement in the experience and you will further differentiate yourself and your practice.

Imagine beginning the meeting by handing your client a paper agenda and a pen to encourage their participation. You carefully describe your plans for the meeting you called and ask for feedback on how you will spend the time--noting suggestions diligently.

This is your opportunity to cultivate fascination for the unique human being sitting in front of you. Ask questions for which you really want the answers. Listen intently to the person sitting across from you. Take breaks to ask "what are you feeling right now?" and check in to see how they are doing.

Showing that you really care begins in the first meeting. If you provide an opportunity for someone to feel like space is being held for them to be heard, you are conveying a powerful message. Your clients matter. Their lives matter to you. Their stories matter. Their needs matter. They are far more likely to turn to you as a trusted advisor and take your advice if you can provide them the increasingly rare experience of feeling your undivided attention. Attention is in short supply in our society. Can you make it abundant in your practice?

Coaching Tip Pretend that you are seeing your client or prospective client after just exiting a spacecraft from another planet. Imagine the level of intrigue you would have as you interacted with this person. See if you can greet each person you come across as the highly unique person they are with a one-of-a-kind story to tell and something to teach you.