By: Brian Tracy
A key skill of listening is to question for clarification. The fact is that the prospect often says something that is subject to misinterpretation. Often it is vague or unclear, even to the prospect. Your basic operating principle should be that, if there is any doubt at all as to what the prospect needs, then you didn't really understand. When you question for clarification, you not only get an opportunity to listen more while the prospect is answering the question, you always assure that what the prospect says and what you heard are the same. Again, questioning for clarification slows the conversation down, increases the clarity of the communication and builds greater trust. My favorite question in selling is, "How do you mean?" Or, "How do you mean, exactly?" You can use this question after almost any statement by the prospect. It is an irresistible question and it is virtually impossible for a person to hear it without expanding on what they are thinking or what they previously said. Whenever you have any doubts at all, or whenever the prospect objects to any facet of your offering, simply pause, smile and ask, "How do you mean, exactly?" Never assume that you know or understand before you have questioned and gotten accurate clarification of exactly what the prospect meant when he or she asked a question or offered an objection. Always ask, How do you mean? Now, here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action. First, never assume that you fully understand what the customer said or meant when he objects or asks questions. Second, use the power of questions to learn more about what the customer really needs, wants and is concerned about. Telling is not selling; only asking questions is selling.