Recently, I was lurking in a Facebook group for small business owners. A lot of the same discussions come up regularly. People are searching for a particular service, they ask for recommendations, or they shout offers from the rooftops hoping that somebody will listen.

One of the questions that comes up all the time is how to offer or market their product. And I see the same problems all the time. “We have such a great product, but nobody seems to get what we do.” “My customers are so confused about what we do, and I’m not sure how to explain it.” “My customers think we do X, when we actually do Y.”

Oh my word. Customers are literally telling you they’re confused. They are telling you exactly why they aren’t buying. Instead of wondering what message you should be telling them, take a second and listen!

I’m on post I saw recently, the business owner listed out several replies they get from lost leads when choosing not to buy. This business owner actually listed out quotes from their customers as to why they wouldn’t buy.

 

This is gold!


As a marketer, I sat with my job dropped. How could this business owner not see their customers are giving them exactly what they needed. The customers were telling him the exact hurdles they needed to overcome to buy. And what did this business owner do? Nothing. They wondered why the customer didn’t get it.

This situation can be so frustrating. When a business tries to sell to clients and there’s confusion, it’s frustrating for everybody involved. It’s frustrating for the customer. It’s frustrating for the business owner. (And it’s frustrating for the marketer sitting on the sidelines watching this unfold.)

Do your customers tell you exactly what their hurdles are? Do they tell you exactly why they’re not buying? Do they tell you exactly why they’re confused?

Chances are, they are telling you this and more.

Chances are your customers are telling you exactly why they aren’t buying.

 

Are you listening?

 

One of the biggest trends I see is that business owners simply don’t listen. They have a great idea. They have a great product. Maybe they even have several great products. But they don’t listen to their customers. They assume they know their customers think, need, and want. But business owners are not listening.

I wish business owners would listen. I wish they would realize how valuable listening can be to their marketing, their research, their development, and their ultimate success as a business.

 

So here are three techniques for listening to your customers.

 

1. Flat out ask them

Send out a survey, follow up with paying customers, as well as lost leads. Ask what you can do to improve. And when they tell you, don’t try to fix anything. Just listen.

 

2. Pay attention to complaints

This one is awful. Another business I work with has failed miserably in the early stages. There a lot of things they’ve done wrong. And I’ve learned so much working with them. Several years ago, we soft launched this business. We were not prepared for the amount of traffic received. The entire system crashed. It was frustrating, embarrassing, and very vulnerable, but we listened. We improved. And to this day we’re still making progress because we’ve chosen to listen.

 

3. When selling, listen to the hurdles.

Your customers will tell you exactly what is wrong. They will tell you exactly why they aren’t (or are) going to buy. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, but your customers will tell you where you can improve. If they compare you to another product, listen. Follow-up. Ask them clarifying questions. Dr. Stephen Covey said “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” And he’s spot on. Listen, understand, and THEN respond.

 

What other tricks do you use in listening to your customers?

 



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