In business, it is so easy to become inward looking, only viewing the world from our own perspective. Surely, to be truly successful we must start to be outward looking and view the world through the eyes of all the stakeholders of our business, customers, suppliers, employees etc.
It is so easy to assume that these two views are exactly the same and that we know what all our stakeholders want.
But, oh how wrong can we be?
Let’s briefly look at customers as an example.
It never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople have not mastered the core sales skill of listening. So much has been written about it over the years but this fundamental part of the sales process is done badly time and again.
To listen to and then understand to what the client requires is surely the single most important factor in maintaining a consistent customer experience, the bedrock of all long term sales relationships. It’s not what the salesperson thinks the customer wants but what they really require that is critical.
So why is this still so common?
When selling, the salesperson, the ‘listener’, can often jump to a conclusion and at that point start to selectively listen to the customer’s needs whilst they are actually formulating their solution in response to what they have only partially heard.
They are not thinking WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) from the customer point of view but what’s in it from their own point of view. Perhaps their commission or hitting their target.
At that point they are inward looking, so that they can get the point over.
Now, it’s a bit like listening to a play on the radio with a load of static and poor reception. You only hear part of the story, but as you lose the plot you are forced to fill in the gaps based on your own expectations and experiences. This will only be your interpretation of what was communicated by the customer not what they truly need.
Unfortunately, in sales the reason a customer buys your product or service may be way, way away from what you may think.
So start to actively review your business through others eyes. At the end of the day it is how those outside your business perceive what you do that is important, not what you think you do. Tune into their requirements, seek a clear signal to get rid of the static on your radio.
In sales, inward thinking will result in high staff turnover, price sensitivity and low customer retention…. but when multiplied this selective listening in other areas of your business, marketing, team, purchasing, finance etc. will have serious commercial impacts on your business.
So seek a fresh view, first seek to understand before being understood.