When you don’t listen to your customers or prospects, you risk losing them.
According to a recent report, “Did not listen to me” is the most widely experienced problem faced by 38% of services buyers. Additionally, 55% of buyers said they would be “much more likely” to consider hiring the provider “if they listened better.” As Drew McLellan points out, if you add up the “didn’t listen” and the “talked too much,” that’s 63%. Two thirds of your sales calls are being wasted simply because you talk too much and don’t listen enough!
Market research is all about listening. It is also about asking the right kind of questions so that you’ll get the right kind of feedback.
Here are three tried and true tips that I always use in my market research to make sure I actually listen to participants. These tips are applicable to every area of customer and prospect interaction.
- Shoot for the 80/20 rule. Always ask yourself, what percentage of the time are you talking, and what percentage of the time are the participants talking? I shoot for the 80/20 rule. If I’m doing more than 20% of the talking, then I’m probably not really listening.
- Ask questions that encourage talking – not just “yes/no”. Are you telling the person what their pain is, or are you letting them tell you about their pain? A good researcher doesn’t say, “here is your pain – isn’t that right?” They ask about pain to see if the pain they believe the prospect has actually comes up as a priority. Of course you can always guide a discussion to keep it relevant, but you need to ask open questions in order to get real feedback – and give customers and prospects a real chance to say “no, I don’t care about that”.
- Look for what you don’t know. Never ask a participant “Do you agree?” 90% of the time they’ll say yes, because that’s the easy and polite thing to do. Your goal is to create an opportunity to hear something you DON’T know.
To quote the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “we were born with two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Thanks for the inspiration Drew.