"A good listener tries to understand thoroughly what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but before he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
-- Kenneth A. Wells, Guide to Good Leadership
A lot has been written about the communication aspects of marketing. Unfortunately, most of it has focused on the"sending" function -- writing the perfect ad, creating the killer sales letter, or making a great sales pitch. We always seem to focus on what we are doing TO a customer, rather than what the customers might be saying to US.

We have to remember that all communication is two-directional. In order to truly be great communicators, we have to improve our skills when we are the receivers. In other words, we have to become great listeners as well as great speakers or writers.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things we can do to help improve this aspect of our communication with our customers:

1) Treat all communication as important. From time to time (more often than I like) I have to deal with a salesperson who only seems to be listening for certain things what I'm ordering, how much I'm going to pay, and when my money will arrive. After a salesperson like this gets what they want, they just tune you out.
Luckily, these are usually the salespeople who don't last long.

Truly great salespeople, on the other hand, know that EVERYTHING that a customer has to say is important. In a lot of cases, especially with business opportunities, a customer is more interested in advice than they are in your product. If you take time to listen to their concerns and can provide them with insight (along with your offer), your customer will be much more satisfied than if you just delivered the "goods."

2) Pay attention to differences. Many times, it is easy to forget that every person is different. What you know is different than what your customer knows. You can listen much more effectively if you realize that the customer might be using different terms than you, or might even be seeing things from a completely different perspective.

This is where empathy comes in very handy. As you listen, try to empathize with your customer put yourself into their shoes so that you can have a better understanding of their wants, needs, and fears.

3) Pay attention to feedback. To grow and survive, a company needs to adapt. In order to adapt, it has to have sufficient information to know what is needed and what is obsolete.
For most of us, the best source of this information is our customers. By listening to the feedback and concerns of our customers, we can get a better feel for what the market is looking for.

Communication is the cornerstone of customer services. To increase our customers' satisfaction, we must make sure that we listen to them as carefully as we would craft our advertising. Only by listening can we meet the needs of our clients and make the kind of reputation that leads to success.

Written by Ron Sathoff, a noted speaker who provides copy-writing, marketing, Internet promotion and help for business speakers. Reach him at mailto:
This week truly listen to what your customers are saying.

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