Active listening is a two part process that builds trust in your prospects, customers or clients and helps them to become more focused and candid in their response to your questions. The following list outlines the activities that make up active listening skills. Phase I • Give solid dominant eye contact (right eye) when your customer is speaking. • Murmur a lot and nod your head to let prospects “hear and see” that you are listening. • Ask the customer to clarify a point that is not understood or is of further interest. Phase II • Paraphrase back what you have heard your customer say (NOTE: paraphrasing doesn’t mean you agree with what is said, it just lets your prospects know you heard what was said.) • State your impressions or feelings from what has been said. In one of the laboratories in Washington, D.C., there is a great magnifying glass that measures over three feet across. It\'s like the “sun glasses” we used to treasure when we were young. This great glass gathers the rays of the sun and then focuses them to a single point in space a few feet below. That single spot is so hot that it can melt through a steel plate as easily as a red-hot needle burns through paper. The terrific heat cannot be measured because it melts all instruments. It is just three feet of ordinary sunshine concentrated on a single point. Scattered, these rays are hardly felt, perhaps just pleasantly warm; concentrated, they can melt the strongest of all metals. This magnifying glass is an example of the power of focused concentration. It also suggests to the serious sales professional a way to achieve the sales and cross-sales success you are seeking. If you want to improve any skill, including vital questioning and listening skills, you need the power of focused concentration to help you improve these important selling activities. Improvement is almost assured when you focus on an activity for a period of time. By making a skill a priority and then setting aside some time to practice the technique each day, slowly you will burn the concept into your subconscious mind until you can perform it without even thinking about it (unconscious competence). Researchers tell us that it takes approximately 21 days to make or break a habit. Therefore, if you focus for about three weeks on your questioning and listening skills, you should be well on your way to developing some important and effective selling techniques. Why not try focusing on your questioning or listening skills over the next three weeks. Set aside some time each day and then use some of the following activities to help you concentrate on improving your ability to learn more about your prospects, customers or clients. 1. Write down a series of questions that could help you better execute a sales transaction. Place them in a notebook, on cards, or in your day planner for easy reference. If you are at a loss for words, glance down at these questions to put the sales process back on track. 2. In each sales transaction, consciously record the number of times you respond to a prospect’s question without first redirecting the question to learn more about your prospect\'s needs and mind set. 3. Practice questioning techniques on your family and friends. Consciously make an effort to improve your listening skills by practicing your questioning skills. 4. Ask co-workers to role-play with you so you can put into practice the questioning and listening techniques discussed in this training. 5. Using the list of questions you have prepared, role-play in your mind how they might be used with a variety of customers. Think of customers that you have dealt with in the past and apply these principles with 20/20 hindsight. By examining what you could have said, follow this new script to its logical conclusion inside your mind. What better place is there for you to practice perfection than in your own imagination?