Podcast Interview - "The Art of Listening" with Robert Briffa, Nini Tolson & Daniel Tolson

Podcast Interview – “The Art of Listening” with Robert Briffa, Nini Tolson & Daniel Tolson

Robert Briffa is the owner of one of Sydney’s most successful recruitment agencies, with more than 16 years of experience in the field with more than 7,500 successful hires.

Learn more about Daniel & Nini https://www.winsalesnow.com/wsn.

Today, he is going to show us how to listen for the pain when we are interacting with our clients!

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Podcast Transcript


Daniel Tolson (00:01):

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. Our guest today is the Ghana of one of Sydney’s most successful recruitment agencies with more than 16 years of experience in the field with more than seven and a half thousand successful hires today. He’s going to show us how to listen for the pain when we are interacting with my clients. I just gentlemen, please put your hands together and help us. Welcome to the Win Sales Now Podcast, our good friend, Robert Briffa.

Robert Briffa (00:30)

Thank you, Daniel. Thank you Nini.

Daniel Tolson (00:36):

Maybe seven and a half thousand successful hires, positive confirmation to your customers. Congratulations.

Robert Briffa (00:49)

Yeah. And a lot of positives for the people where we placed in those positions as well.

Daniel Tolson (00:54):

That’s incredible. Now we’re going to be talking about the out of listening tonight and the add of, you know, really tuning into the pain of the customers and what they have in the early days of starting your business. When you didn’t know how to listen. What was some of the opportunities that you would have missed out on?

Robert Briffa (01:17):

Well, I’d say there was a, there was, there was plenty of them. And it’s, it came down to learning out all about us, all about me in instead of you know, asking questions and then listening about all about the customer and, and, and what the issues were instead of you know, what I, what I thought they were.

Daniel Tolson (01:48):


Robert Briffa (01:50):

So, yeah. So there was plenty of examples of you know, meeting new clients in particular people that are, haven’t met before and, and, and then not walking away with with the next meeting or, or with them wanting to meet with me again.

Daniel Tolson (02:11):


Daniel Tolson (02:11):

I, I learned in real estate when your mouth’s open, the years close.

Robert Briffa (02:18):

Exactly, exactly.

Daniel Tolson (02:24):

Here in, in, in psychology is that what happens is if we’re doing all the talking, the customer’s starting to think about other things and be able to be a good listener to be able to keep them talking, to find out those pain points. So you had to listen. Probably,

Robert Briffa (02:46):

Probably. My wife is the founder of obstinate G people. She basically pointed out to me, even though I had had a successful sales career in chemical industry, it was a lot different in the people that leave the street. And you, she really made it, made it very clear that, yeah, we’ve got two ears and one mouth, so we should do at least twice as much listening as talking. And yeah, and people’s people issues are far more complex than product issues. And I was used to selling products a an and there are a lot simpler issues to, to solve. They, and then people issues cause people, people think so people products think and that, and in the, they have to listen a lot closely to exactly what a client is requiring. Compared to a straightforward, tangible product.

Daniel Tolson (03:54):

It is listening. $1 million skill aim. Can it land million dollar clients or is it just something rye Rob bullshit, those personal development people talk about?

Robert Briffa (04:04):

No. Yeah, it’s definitely $1 million skill. You know, with proven that you know, our businesses is very successful. It has been since we, we need, you know, particularly myself, has been the lead salesperson listened more for those pain points. And, and then, and then solved those problems in, Oh, I’ve got to say, walked away from problems that we couldn’t solve and didn’t pretend that we could. So it’s definitely definitely I learned skill and it’s not, it’s not or it’s not, but yes it’s extremely important, particularly when you’re selling a complex product

Daniel Tolson (04:58):

With, with listening. Robert, is that unlike just listening to the words or is it listening to the tone and how people see it?

Robert Briffa (05:08):

It’s, it’s, it’s definitely that. And then you know, if of fortunate to be in front of the customer, which you know, [inaudible] is this and I think any business business, the business styles it’s very important to be with, with the customer that you can pick up on those tones. And also, yeah, the body language you can see the pain in the eyes rather than yeah, you can’t say that over a telephone. So it’s, it’s very important to listen for even pauses when someone’s explaining something to you can, you can almost feel their pain.

Daniel Tolson (05:52):

Some of the lightest research coming out of the university of California. They’ve broken down communication to three components and they said that 55% of your communication is your body language. And you know, the advantage today, we were talking offline before about doing business via applications like zoom, which is almost as good as getting face to face. They also break it down and say that tone equates to 38% of the message also. And it’s of the voice. It’s the pitch of the voice. It’s the pace and also the cadence and the cadence of those poses. And then the communication, the last part is only 7% words. So 93% of the communication is actually nonverbal, which,

Robert Briffa (06:43):

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I, that’s [inaudible] you pick up on the cues all of someone’s pain. And then the, and the problems that they solve from those verbal and nonverbal cues, not, not what they’re saying. It’s, it’s a matter, it’s a matter of how they feel. And, and you know, people will buy on how it makes them feel rather than rub on transactions. So particularly it’s a win know to, to have that interaction with a client. I think it’s extremely important to, to, to know how it makes them, how to solve that problem. Rather than just having a transactional relationship.

Nini Tolson (07:41):

Like we, we, we all have been sold before. I remember last week I got a phone call from one of the sales person, she just talked like 500 miles per minute, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t even let me have a chance to talk, you know, say one wants to say, and I say to Daniel, that’s says, your best view of selling, you know, if you convert a sales, you know, you want to promote your product or service, at least let me talk. He just like, he’s like a machine, you know, train machine, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like riff on the script. And that that’s, that’s, I know a lot of sales people, they kind of tend to do that, you know, like not listening.

Daniel Tolson (08:21):

When we lived in Dubai and it was obviously how they were trained. And so what they train their salespeople to do is that when a customer walks into the shop is you follow them around and what happens is you walk in and all of a sudden you feel that there’s somebody behind you and you turn around and there’s somebody in your face the whole time and, and you almost jump out of your skin, but they don’t have that sensory skill decided this is really awkward, but just being told and they are following instructions, but it’s really hurting the sales because they can’t read that language.

Robert Briffa (08:56):

Yes, yes. It’s, it’s, yeah. And it’s, and it’s asking simple questions of, of why they’re in that shop. You know, is there a closed shop? Is it, is there is an occasion coming up or then, then you can, you can tell from, you know, if someone says no, but they, yeah. Leaning towards who and all those types of cues you can pick up on. Whether that’s yes, they are in there, it’s a really by, or are they just filling in time? So, yeah. Yeah. And that’s the way that, yeah. Asking some simple questions, but they’re listening and observing how they react to those questions is the key.

Nini Tolson (09:41):

So, so Robert [inaudible] for our audience here, they probably wants to learn more about, you know, if you can share some of your practical ideas, you know, with us right now to improve our listening. And so those people, audience or us, we can, we more cells to make more cells.

Robert Briffa (10:01):

Yeah, absolutely. What, what all I always do is, you know, if you ask a simple leading question and then, and then listen is to, to make, to make notes, don’t rely on your memory. Because, you know, I can’t quote the studies that Daniel, you probably would be able to that I know that there’s plenty of studies that say that we only retain about 20% of what we hear. So I always make notes on the pertinent points and then I recap those, those points with, with the person or persons that I’m speaking with. And also some make some notes on what I observed when I would told him about those. Those are points that are, you know, you could probably categorize as painful and just recap over those and and then then ask more questions about the, what would it mean to them or how would it make them feel if those pain points could be taken away solved.

Robert Briffa (11:16):

And then again, make notes on that and just keep on going over, going through that process and you really get into the crux of what they want solved and we’ll hopefully, they’ve got some problems to solve. And and then, and then ask them, would you, would you like, if you could solve those problems, would you like to see how we could solve those problems for you? Ahm and a and then, and then just go over that very slowly and just do one thing at a time. Not bombard them.

Daniel Tolson (11:54):

You aren’t right. They have 20%. We will forget about 80% of what the customer says. And we’ll remember about 20% and elbowed salespeople side before. I’ll just remember the 20% that’s important. You don’t get to choose, it’s just a function of volume. There’s a great sign in Chinese that says the palest ink will last longer than the fondest memory. So if you think it, and most people, when you go back through your session notes in you read them a week later you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize the customer said that”. And when you repeat it back to the customer, they say, “I can’t believe I said that to you”. And said, well look here on the 25th.

Robert Briffa (12:35):

I know. And I always go back to the client after you have to always have a point of the, of what the next step should be at the meeting, whether it’s a followup meeting, whether it’s a quotation or whatever it might be there, there is always the next step in leaving a meeting. But always go back to the customer in writing confirming all the most important points that we’ve spoken about, how we can solve those problems and what the next step was going to be. And we are booking in, they have an appointment. I think that’s really important to confirm all of those things.

Daniel Tolson (13:17):

100%. Now, for the people to learn more about the good work that you’re doing now in Sydney, where’s the best place for them to follow you?

Robert Briffa (13:27):

Yeah, they can go onto our website, which is synergypeople.com.au. Also, they could find me on Synergy on LinkedIn. That would be the, the two best places, a four for people wanting to make a move in their career. It would be LinkedIn and Facebook.

Daniel Tolson (13:51):

Well, ladies and gentlemen, make sure you head over to the synergypeople.com.au and learn more about why Robert’s incredibly successful. He’s been there for 16 years and he’s had more than seven and a half thousand — it’s a big number — successful hire. So if you’re looking for the right position or if you want to attract the right people into your business, be sure to reach out to Robert and his team today. Robert, thank you for sharing these ideas on the Art of Listening. Much appreciated. Thanks, Daniel so much. You have a wonderful night.

Robert Briffa (14:20)

No problem at all. Thanks Daniel, thanks Nini.

Daniel Tolson (14:21)

You have a wonderful day.

Robert Briffa (14:22)

You too.