It seems counter-intuitive, but the key to growth is to spend less money. Think of all the things your business is supposed to do to generate revenue. Build awareness. Create personas. Generate leads. Qualify opportunities. Nurture customers. Make offers. Target. Prospect. Introduce. Differentiate. Connect. Resonate. Overcome. Demonstrate. Assure. Close. All this should sound familiar and seem logical. But, it’s based upon a fundamental flaw. It’s almost all noise.
The business world is filled with noise. The things mentioned above only add to the din – more noise. This is because there is an inherent bias toward doing, and doing more – not listening. Listening as in gaining unfiltered, unbiased, genuine, honest, empathetic, strategic and deep understanding of a customer, and of all customers.
Listening should be at the heart of all sales and marketing, but almost all the things we see, in our experience, are geared toward telling. For example, most sales tools and presentations focus on the solution, and are written from an “us” vs. “you” point-of-view. They largely ignore the problem-side of the equation, and customers largely buy in order to solve problems. How can you help a customer recognize the problems they have, see that those problems are worth solving, understand the value of solving them, and feel assured that you can do it with tangible results?
This gets more complex when you acquire other businesses or expand your products and services. Now, you can solve a bigger set of problems. Do customers understand what that bigger problem is, and how your entire business can deliver a higher-level value to them? Do you understand how they understand?
Strategy is easy. Great strategy is not. That’s because great strategy requires listening. And, great listening results in something simple, yet powerful. Targets, value, promotion and tactics follow accordingly. To build a truly great organization, one that is disproportionately valued – and valuable – requires:
- Understanding the world the way your customer understands it
- Investing in problem-side substance – what, where, when, why, how, how much
- Elevating skills-sets – probing, understanding, elevating, connecting
- Filling your sales and marketing with the substance customer’s crave
- Establishing direct feedback loops and listening posts throughout your sales team, customer base, and prospect set
At the core, it’s about great listening that yields great strategy, great substance and great execution