Shhhh….stop talking and just listen. In your next client meeting, I want you to put your pen down, put away your marketing folders, close your computer, turn off your phone and just listen to what your client is trying to tell you about their business needs. This is the most powerful tool you have to help you discover and deepen your relationship with your client.
Today I was inspired by the power of listening in a client interaction. In this instance, I was the client and I saw how much listening builds a client relationship when making your case or a presentation. I have been investigating a software system for an association and had been on four different conference calls with 4 different sales teams. Every sales team has their own style, but I had started each conversation with the words “Walk me through the software while I go down a list of specific questions,” so that I could evaluate the software as carefully and as fairly as possible. Of the 4 sales teams, 3 of them were open to this way of evaluating the software and let me, as the client, drive the demonstration. The last salesperson did something that started me on this particular topic of listening. The 4th salesperson had a set demonstration and would not let me interrupt to ask my list of questions and although during the demonstration, the software looked like it might have met my needs, I really don’t know.
I stopped the demonstration early because my questions weren’t being answered and I wasn’t being heard. I came away from the interaction with the impression that if the salesperson wasn’t going to listen in the early part of the courtship, how well would they respond when this association would need help implementing the software or ran into a bug? I simply wasn’t heard and I felt like my needs were not addressed.
One of the most overused words in current pop psychology is mindfulness, but the essential idea behind it is solid – Be in the moment and listen. Most of what your client is trying to tell you is lost during a meeting when you do most of the talking. A successful client meeting should be you talking 10% and your client talking 90%. Having your client truly feel that they are being heard is probably the greatest gift any of us can give a client. Moreover, when people feel heard they feel respected, which is essential to building a trusting relationship.