The Power of Listening

May 2, 2023

“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.”

Stephen Covey

We’ve all been there. You’re in the midst of sharing an important or personal story, as you watch the listener’s eyes start to glaze over. It hurts. It makes you feel unimportant, their disconnecting from what you’re saying. It makes you question opening up to them ever again.

This same relationship dynamic exists between you and your customer. After all, good marketing is simply a great conversation. And what makes great conversation? Active listening. Today we’re going to give you the tools and show you the power of listening, and how you can become better at it.

Throw Out the Script

It’s easy to get excited and overly eager to begin your marketing campaign. And we love that excitement btw! But first things first: and that’s listening. After all, how can you start problem solving for your potential clients when you don’t yet know what their problems are? I, for one, consider it a personal pet peeve when on the phone with a customer service rep, who is actively reading a script, unwilling to step away from it. (And yes, I get that some jobs require this.) BUT, it is so much more effective when I can hear from their response that they’re actually listening to what I have to say. And ultimately? It usually solves our problems of communication. So, throw out that script, and show up to customer conversations, ready to hear what they have to say first.

Be Clear with Your Objective

Never go into a conversation with your top objective being to sell.

Ok, yeah, I know. Sounds crazy, right? But hear me out. Of course you want to sell to the client (and we do as well!). But when that is your primary objective, the necessary steps in order to actually do that, usually fall to the wayside. My personal approach? Make your top objective to listen and understand first. One of our top priorities at Waves when meeting with potential new clients is to see if it’s a good fit for both of us. Very much the same with any relationship, if it’s not a good fit, you don’t want to invest in it. And why? Because inevitably it will fail, and we all (including you!) are interested in cultivating long-term, successful relationships. So listen up, and then weigh if it’s a worthy match between you and your potential customer. You both will be grateful you did.

Steps to Become a Better Listener

As with most improvements, we all could use this one. Whether it be on the sales floor or in a heart-to-heart with a friend, becoming a better listener is always a good idea. So, what are some ways to help cultivate this skill? We’ve listed a few below:

  • Don’t rush it. Take your time in getting to know and understand your customer(s). No one likes to feel rushed, as it can make them feel unvalued and an afterthought. Remember, good things take time.
  • Read body language. Whatever people may or may not be saying with their words, they’re saying with their body. It is very difficult to hide how you’re feeling physically so be aware of both your body language (and how it could be perceived) while picking up on your client’s.
  • Eye contact and affirmations. If in person with a customer, maintain eye contact. Being able to meet eye-to-eye with someone indicates confidence and transparency (not to mention that they have your undistracted attention). If not in person, the occasional affirmation (yes, of course, etc.) on the phone, for example, helps the speaker to know you are present and listening.
  • Leave assumptions at the door. Most of us pass judgments on others in literal seconds, based on appearance, gender, age, etc. Try to avoid this, as you may be jeopardizing an opportunity to connect with a potential client. As the old saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”–so keep an open mind, and listen to what they want and who they are.

So start those conversations and show up with curiosity to listen and learn. Only then can the truest problem solving begin.