Years ago when I was just starting out in the business I used to continuously listen to recordings by successful sales trainers any chance I could. It was invaluable to hear stories about how these trainers handled all aspects of the selling process. Today, I would like to share a very important lesson that has been invaluable to me in my career.

One morning,I was riding down the road on the way to an appointment as I listened to J. Douglas Edwards talking about the importance of active listening when all of a sudden he yells out, ” SHUT UP, SHUT UP.” This was followed by dead silence. He had made a point that to this day I have never forgotten. Once you have made your presentation, you need to sit back and listen to the client’s response. You may feel that you are waiting an usually long time, but the operative word here is listen. In this case, the trainer was trying to emphasize that when the client responds, they will tell you how you may help them solve their problem.

Likewise, a wise mentor told me years ago, ” If you want to be successful as an advisor, just remember there’s a reason why you have two ears and one mouth.” He went on to explain that what most clients need is a good listening to. They long for an advisor to see their world through their eyes by listening, really listening. You will find that they will often tell you things that will surprise you.These are things you can respond to positively to build trust and enhance the value you give them.

But before you even get to the presentation, let’s step back for a moment and examine the interaction with your client that precedes it. In order to improve your listening skills so you may build stronger, longer lasting relationships, here are 4 steps to follow:

1) Share your sincere insights and encourage your client to share their goals, dreams, feelings, and frustrations.

This will help you zero in on their true needs.

2) Make it a habit of being present and give your client your full undivided attention.

For this moment, block out all distractions and focus solely on them.

3) Make your client feel comfortable sharing their thoughts openly and honestly.

Treat this conversation as if you were visiting with an old friend.

4)Once your client is finished talking, acknowledge what you heard without passing judgment.

This will enable you to make sure everyone is clear on what the needs are prior to you making a recommendation.

Understanding your clients and prospects on a more personal level will enable you to serve them better today. Yes, today is your day. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow, but today. You have 86,400 seconds to make an impact today!