Are You Listening to Your Customers?
1st December 2015 Will Humphries
Are you a good listener? You listen all of the time, right?
You listen to your colleagues or your employees, and you listen to what’s going on in your industry.
However, are you listening to your customers?
Customers appreciate someone who not only hears them but who connects with them and listens to their needs.
Listening isn’t just good for your client relationships.
As you work on your lead generation, training your staff and coaching yourself to listen carefully to prospective customers can provide you with essential information that can help you improve your sales strategies.
What is Listening?
Yes, I know it seems like a pretty simple question. However, the first lesson we learn as salespeople is that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Engage your brain and use them in that order.
The problem is we don’t always do that, do we?
Be honest – even you will have rushed ahead in the conversation with your customer at some stage during your career, talking over your client in an attempt to sell the benefits they can reap from your solution.
There are times that we, as salespeople are so keen to get our pitch across to a client, that the solution we are selling is so good that we forget this golden rule.
We forget to slow down and L-I-S-T-E-N.
I always remember a scene from a Sherlock Holmes film.
Holmes, who was being queried by the press outside a large building about his methods for solving a crime, turns to one of his hecklers, points to the building directly behind and asks him if he sees it.
“Of course I do”, he snaps.
Holmes replies “How many windows does it have?”
The critic falters, mumbles that he is not sure as Holmes self-confidently pipes up “The fact is that you see, but you do not observe.”
Listening works under the same guise.
Listening is about understanding and about paying attention to the details; what your customers are expressing about your products, their worries, and their excitement.
Wouldn’t you like to know if your client is concerned, looking for new resources, or seeking to build something new? What business problem do they have that your solution can help fix?
As a sales person, your challenge is to truly listen to the interests and needs of your customers so that you can let their needs guide your product development and the way you provide services.
Pay attention. It’s not about you; it’s about your customer.
Have a Real Conversation
Although I’m personally not a fan of them, scripts can be necessary when your employees call potential leads because they can help them ensure that they do not forget anything important.
However, encourage those who work for you to move off the script.
If a customer brings up an important point, encourage your employees to listen and follow it up, because that’s how you get to know that client.
Having those real conversations allows customers to bring up concerns that might not fit into more scripted conversations, but are essential information for your future business development.
There are two people whom I admire greatly only because, in my opinion, they have hit the nail on the head when it comes to dealing with a customer – and people, in general, to be honest.
They would be Bryan Kramer, Founder & CEO of Pure Matter, and Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist & Keynote Speaker.
Bryan coined the phrase and hashtag #H2H which stands for Human to Human.
It even became the number one buzzword on Twitter.
The point is that we no longer sell B2B or B2C, but H2H.
And he is right on the money as far as I am concerned.
Bryan has written two books on the topic which I’d advise you to go and read and make sure to join in on the #H2HChat on Twitter.
You can find out more about Bryan here.
Ted coined the phrase (and another hugely successful hashtag!) #RonR – Return on Relationships.
Which again is so simple and to the point.
It was a bit of a Eureka moment with me when I initially discovered Bryan and Ted a few years back, only because I have always said that sales and business in general, is all about relationships.
It’s about finding a connection & developing a rapport with your client. You can learn more about Ted here.
If you don’t know who either of these guys is, do yourself (and your clients) a favour and find out.
Empower Your Employees to Take Action
When you listen to your clients, you hear about what’s difficult for them and what they need from your business.
Give your employees the ability to listen and take action.
It will give them confidence and make them more knowledgeable about their client’s needs and reactions.
Plus it will also demonstrate that you trust your people to do what is necessary and will help with their development and growth.
When your company takes action, you help your customers know that you’ve listened to them, and quick action allows you to meet their clients’ needs more efficiently.
Plan for structured listening as well.
What does this look like?
Data collection is a tool you can use to listen to your customers and get information that will allow you to make better decisions about your business directions.
Collect data through online surveys, registration forms, social listening tools and by asking your customers simple questions as you talk.
Everyone talks about Digital Marketing to engage with clients – Social Listening tools, Brand Monitoring tools.
Yes, these are all part of an overall strategy to help communicate with your prospects and customers.
However, the number one apparatus you can use to collect data is, yes, you’ve guessed it – your ears.
Collate this information, so you have a sense of what all of your customers are feeling and you’ll be better able to target both your products and your demand generation.
Success is Meeting Your Customers’ Needs
If you want to develop a reputation as an excellent service provider you need to listen to your clients.
Listening will allow you to gather data and understand your customers’ thoughts and feelings.
Ultimately, it can lead to positive changes in your products & services, new training directions for your employees, or new ways of serving your customers.
This will allow you to grow as a business, improving your reputation and increasing your customer base.
When your products and processes change in response to your clients’ needs, this is a sign that you are truly listening.
Are you working to improve the ways that you do business? Internal Results can help.
We’ll work with you to ensure your customers are being heard as you develop a strong brand and demand generation strategy.