By Pat Henneberry
Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach. Reach her at (512) 203-3414, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
It’s the time of year when the owls are in my yard.

At night, I can hear them talking back and forth with their woe, woe, woe—or is it who, who, who?—calls.

It got me thinking, and wondering: Why is the owl perceived as the wisest creature in the animal kingdom?

It’s not this beautiful bird’s laser-sharp night vision, or the fact that it can do a Linda Blair-style 360-degree swivel of its head, or even that it cocks its noggin in a curious and wise fashion.

The owl’s real differentiator is its ears; the owl is one of the best listeners in the forest (or, in my case, in the backyard), especially at high frequencies.

Since owls have no sense of smell, their world is all about listening.

Owls have binaural, or diotic, hearing. Binaural literally means “having or relating to two ears.” Binaural hearing lets humans and other animals (including owls) determine the direction and origin of sounds.

Owls use their unique, sensitive ears to locate prey by listening for movements through ground cover such as leaves, foliage or even snow.

When a noise is heard, the owl can tell which direction it originated from because of the infinitesimal time difference in which the sound is detected in one ear versus the other, i.e., if the sound was to the left of the owl, the left ear would hear it before the right.

So why am I talking about owls? Because their advantage is their acute sense of hearing; they are great listeners, and we should be, too, if we want to sell jewelry this holiday season.

Now that we are in the holiday rush we tend to sell quickly and talk quickly, and our listening goes out the door.

This is a reminder to be an owl; use your ears, slow down.

Instead of proclaiming your knowledge of the product, ask a few catalytic questions instead (see Peter’s Smith column about the importance of developing a go-to list of open-ended questions) and listen to your customers. It makes selling a lot easier!

What could better serve you on the sales floor—talking, or listening like the wise owl?

Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach and an advocate for natural diamonds. Reach her at 512-203-3414, via her website, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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