Hints & Tips Blog

How well do you listen to your customers?

Our customers are the lifeblood of our businesses. Yet all too often when meeting prospective new customers we can be so keen to win their business we jump in all guns blazing, eager to convey what we can offer, why they should use us and why we’re different. Even before we’ve asked them about their business, what they want and need and what’s really important to them.

A good example of this being put into action comes from Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4, on the subject of choosing Leeds for their new national HQ. Although the city’s high digital profile contributed to the decision, Mahon also emphasised that it was the bid team’s approach that had helped to close the deal.

What did the Leeds team do that was different? According to Mahon, they listened. They asked Channel 4 about its vision for the future and listened carefully to the ways in which the station thought that this vision might be achieved. After listening to C4’s ideas, the bid team gave serious consideration to how they might support and build on the concept.

When we meet potential customers we are of course rightly keen to communicate our approach, our experience, the quality of what we do and how we do it. However, taking the time to listen to what matters most to them, show we are genuinely interested in their business and its success and how we can contribute to that will create a more productive starting point for them and you.

It can be useful to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself:

What are they trying to achieve and which of their goals can you help them deliver?

What barriers might they be facing and how can you help to solve their problems?

Providing a solution will always be more valuable to a customer than just delivering a product or service, so communicating how what you offer makes their life easier or adds value to their business will make your ‘sell’ more compelling.

Customers respond well to people who express a genuine interest in their strengths and successes and demonstrate enthusiastic support. Your services or products still have to be relevant, high quality and timely, but your approach to bidding for their business is critical. You’ll achieve greater sales and deeper trust for building a long-term relationship if you take the time to find out what will create the biggest impact for your customer and their business. Only then should you present yourself and what you can offer to help them achieve those goals.


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