We assume we are all good listeners. I heard you but was I listening? There is a big difference between merely hearing and really listening.
Listening happens when we internalize the words and thoughts behind them.
Covey had it right in 7 Habits when he said listen with the intent to understand, not with the anticipation of your own response.
A few keys to effective listening:
give non-verbal feedback
do not interrupt
repeat back the keys idea to demonstrate understanding
talk 20% of the time and listen 80%
Of course, we all know and do these things, right?
But what about companies? Is yours listening?
Do you send emails from email@example.com? If you do, then you are telling your audience that you specifically do not want to listen.
How about chat? Do you make it easy to hear what they are saying by giving them immediate access to your subject matter experts?
Do you respond to all comments, ratings, reviews? Have you seen your Google Business page lately?
Are you following up with your customers to see how they are doing with your solution? And no, the ubiquitous NPS survey that says tell me on a scale from 1-10 if you would recommend us to someone else is not really listening.
Do your senior executives spend time in the field, on the phone, or on Zoom calls with actual paying customers?
Do you monitor your website and track time on page, bounce rates, and page views to see if you are creating content people actually want to consume?
This one brings me to SEO again. SEO is a strategic priority because it is all about understanding what people are searching for online regarding information, answers, and ultimately, solutions. It sounds like listening to me!
Empathy, genuine care for customers, and thinking about them first must be part of the makeup of your people in order for them to be able to listen.
We have all been around that salesperson who just wants to talk, tell his story, pitch his product and you know he is only thinking about closing the deal and getting that commission check. Not good.
Growing your business today will rely on the personal disciplines of you and your team. Those that improve their individual and company-wide ability to listen will be the ones buyers want to work with.