The key to being influential, a great leader and a top producer in sales is one’s ability to listen. I am not talking about just hearing the words people use. I am referring to being in the listening of those you are trying to influence.
For example, when people use words you hear everyday, do you immediately associate those words with what you think they are saying? Or do you put your assumptions aside and truly listen from the world your client, prospect or employee are speaking from? This is the critical part of listening.
You may be hearing what people are telling you. But if you attach your assumptions to the words you are hearing, you are not truly listening. Pure listening is putting all of your biases and experiences aside and listening from the perceptions of your customers.
When I wrote the Complete Idiots Guide to Great Customer Service in 1997 with my colleague Don Blohowiak, we interviewed several companies for case studies on great customer service. One of those companies was Hertz. The VP of Reservations told me the story of how they surveyed their top customers and the number one complaint was how long the process took to drop off the cars and take the bus to the terminal. Hertz immediately assumed the issue was frequency of buses and they increased the number of buses. They surveyed the same group again six months later and received the same complaint. After further investigation they found the real issue were the lines at the counter to get their receipts. Thus came the hand held computers you now see on the belts of the attendants who give you your receipt the moment you get out of the car.
Hertz had and still has a great brand and they were able to survive not getting to the real issue soon enough. Today, no one, including Hertz, has six months to get it right.
If you are going to ask questions of your customers and prospects, take surveys, etc., please listen from their point of view. Forget about how you know the world to be. If you don’t, you probably will be coming up with solutions that will fall on deaf ears.
Do you merely hear your customers or truly listen to them? For more techniques on how to listen more effectively, check out the CEO Bestselling Book Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way.