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How do we spot new trends, drive innovation and sell better?

Sue Barrett /

Recently, Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull urged and encouraged Australians to be more creative, develop new opportunities and drive innovation to grow our economy and secure a better economic future for us.

That’s all well and good but how do we spot new trends, drive innovation, and sell better so as to secure our future?

There will be many variables to consider in each of our answers to this question. However, there are three core things we need to master if we want to spot and create trends before anyone else does, if we want to get ahead of the curve, and if we want to be an indispensable resource or asset to our business and our clients.

If we want to own tomorrow we need to be open minded, curious and masters of active listening.

One of the main benefits of being in a sales role is that it puts us at the epicentre of change and the emergence of the new trends that may shape tomorrow if we are ready and willing to pay attention to the information.

We need to be receptive to information and experiences as they come to us in their many forms. Judging or criticising keeps us from seeing and hearing opportunities. Not looking outside our comfort zones keeps us narrow-minded and closed to opportunity.

Asking insightful questions, paying attention to the little things, verifying, understanding and engaging in active listening are the essentials skills we need to master. They take up very little space and we can apply them anywhere and everywhere we go. If we allow ourselves this receptivity and practice these skills, we are much more likely to see patterns, hear messages and look at things and situations from different perspectives.

Are you listening?

Active listening is a particularly important skill to practice because while we can be an expert in our field and a skillful questioner, if we do not hear what is really being said by the other person, we will miss vital information that will allow us to form connections, explore ideas, spot trends and create new opportunities.

As David Bowie once said: “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming”.

So can you hear tomorrow coming? Why not assess your listening skills using the checklist below?

Are you a marginal listener?

  • Applies minimal concentration and listening effort;
  • Is easily distracted by their own thoughts and impressions;
  • Plays with the message but doesn’t really hear what is being said;
  • Commonly misunderstands what is being said;
  • The other person does not feel listened to; and
  • This listening is sometimes due to lack of confidence or the ‘old pro’ feel like they have heard it all before.

Are you an evaluative listener?

  • Shows higher level of listening and concentration applied;
  • Actively tries to hear what the person is saying but not making an effort to understand their intent;
  • Evaluates and categorises the overall argument;
  • Concentrates on preparing a response;
  • Is ready with a response as soon as the person is finished;
  • Forms an opinion about the words before the other person is finished speaking; and
  • Risks not accurately understanding the message being sent

Are you an active listener?

  • Refrains from evaluating the message until the person has finished explaining;
  • Tries to see other’s point-of-view;
  • Places attention on words spoken and on the other person’s thoughts and feelings;
  • Suspends personal thoughts and feelings to give attention solely to the other person;
  • Displays empathy;
  • Uses verbal and nonverbal cues to indicate listening; and
  • Uses verifying, clarifying and paraphrasing.

If you would like to understand more about how to sell better and develop the core selling and communication skills of top sales performers underpinned by a fair exchange of value mindset, please do our free online Sales Essentials Test Drive module or our full 8 Module Sales Essentials Program.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com.

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Sue Barrett

Sue is a selling better strategist and advisor, sales philosopher and speaker, sales trainer and coach, writer and activist. Sue is chief executive of forward thinking sales advisory Barrett and online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Barrett develops sales strategies, standards and education that help people and businesses sell better.

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