How good a listener are you?
Clearly, some people are better at listening than others.
No doubt you’ve met some terrible listeners, at parties, or at work…
…or have an Uncle Terry or Auntie Maggie who see the appearance of another human face in their field of vision as simply an excuse to reel off a series of monologues about whatever the hell is bugging them this week, without paying the slightest bit of attention to what’s being said back to them.
I’m sure you’re nothing like that.
But still, I think it pays to be aware that some people are, and that there’s a hierarchy of listening ability.
In business, it’s incredibly important to be a good listener…
Some big-talkin’ alpha biz-dudes like, oh, say, The Donald will probably tell you otherwise (although he’d probably also say he’s “a tremendous listener, one of the best”)…
…but you don’t have to listen to them. (Irony alert.)
Good leadership has a lot to do with listening – and if you’re in business, even in a company of one, you’re a leader.
You lead by showing your clients and customers a better way forward.
But in order to do that, you gotta listen to them first.
If you’re a consultant or freelancer, listening carefully to your clients helps you fully understand their goals, their service and their market…
You become like an actor researching a role, listening out for details that may not seem that interesting to them, because they’ve grown used to them… but which may prove crucial to your work connecting them to their audience.
You need to ask the right questions, and know when to stay quiet so you can get what you need from the answers.
(Notice how the word ‘listen’ is an anagram of the word ‘silent’.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT! Actually: probably, yeah.)
If you run a more traditionally product-based biz, you need to listen to your market when they demand something different…
But you need to listen to them not as ‘a market’, but as individual voices, with distinctive hopes, fears and desires.
People aren’t demographics. Every conversation with an individual about your product or the problem it solves advances your understanding of how you can help.
Talking with them and listening to them helps you more clearly picture them searching for, buying and using your product – which in turn helps you improve the way it’s made and sold.
If you’re a course instructor or teacher of some kind, you should listen closely to your students…
They will tell you where and why they need help, so you can assess where, when and how to offer your knowledge – and also when to let them take the wheel so they can learn by doing.
Whatever biz you’re in, becoming a better listener is at least as important as becoming a better salesperson…
Too often ‘selling’ is done all one-way, with no sign that the seller has any understanding of who they’re selling to.
But when you listen more closely to the people who you’ve decided to help, they’ll tell you how to do it.
The author of one of the most respected books on sales, Harry Browne, famously wrote that ‘The Secret To Selling Anything’ is this:
Find out what people want and help them get it.”
But some people are better at following this simple advice than others, and it’s not always the most ‘sales-driven’ extroverts who come out on top.
In fact, it’s usually the introverts.
As Browne also said in the same book:
It isn’t the loudest talkers or the fastest talkers or the extroverts who excel at selling.
It’s the individual who recognizes that no one is going to buy anything he doesn’t want.”
Slow talkers, quiet talkers, introverts?
Turns out they usually make the best listeners. And are better suited to Selling Unique.
Maybe you’re the same way?
If so, embrace it. It’s a gift. Use it wisely.