Active Listening and its Marketing Value
To be successful in the funeral industry, you must be sensitive, patient, and sympathetic. Your clients are coming to you either at a difficult time after a loved one passes away, or for a difficult subject—their own death at some point in the future. Whether pre-need planning or posthumous preparations, a key to capturing and keeping that client’s business is connecting with them on a personal and emotional level. This connection can be acquired through active listening.
Communication at its Finest
Marketing is really about communicating in the most effective way possible. You have something that a client is looking for, and you want to provide your client with exactly what they need. The trick is directly communicating that you have superior services and products, while still being understanding and personable to your client.
In the funeral industry, whether we’re talking pre-need or not, salesmanship is about empathy and patience. You want to build a trusting relationship with your client who is seeking not only services, but moral support and guidance. The best way to forge that relationship is through open and clear communication.
As you know, 50% of communication is speaking and 50% is listening. The term “active listening” is defined as a way of listening that brings mutual understanding to the conversation. It can be difficult to focus all of your thoughts on the person in front of you, especially when that person is overwhelmed with their situation and looking for support. However, if you’re looking for a simple technique to close those sales and really connect with clients, this one is easy to implement and makes a dramatic difference.
Active Listening in Sales and Marketing
Keith Rosen, MCC, writes, “The ability to actively listen has been proven to dramatically improve the capabilities of a professional salesperson. Ironically, listening is the least developed skill amongst salespeople.” Be wary of assuming you know what a client wants or needs. Be careful when you feel crunched for time or busy and flustered. Your clients, especially those in a fragile emotional state, can perceive how important their concerns are to you, and if you are worried about something other than their conversation, they will know it immediately. Eliminate background noise when possible when conversing with a client, find a comfortable space for the both of you. Try not to multitask when you are discussing their arrangements, and monitor how much you are interjecting your own opinions into the conversation.
A few things you can do to improve your active listening skills are respond and paraphrase what your client is saying to show you are truly listening to them; beware of your body language—crossing your arms or tapping your foot looks and feels impatient to the speaker; allow silence in a conversation instead of interjecting a response immediately; and finally, listen for what is left unsaid—anticipate and suggest some concerns a client may not have yet.
For more information on how active listening affects salesmanship, check out Keith Rosen’s entire article HERE