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Remembering to Listen: Making the Most of Communication

By Ron Sathoff

A lot has been written about the communication aspects of
marketing. Unfortunately, most of it has focused on the "sending"
function -- writing the perfect ad, creating the killer sales
letter, or making a great sales pitch. We always seem to focus on
what we are doing TO a customer, rather than what the customers
might be saying to US.

We have to remember that all communication is two-directional. In
order to truly be great communicators, we have to improve our
skills when we are the receivers. In other words, we have to
become great listeners as well as great speakers or writers.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things we can do to help
improve this aspect of our communication with our customers:

1) Treat all communication as important. From time to time (more
often than I like) I have to deal with a salesperson who only
seems to be listening for certain things -- what I'm ordering,
how much I'm going to pay, and when my money will arrive. After a
salesperson like this gets what they want, they just tune you
out. Luckily, these are usually the salespeople who don't last

Truly great salespeople, on the other hand, know that EVERYTHING
that a customer has to say is important. In a lot of cases,
especially with business opportunities, a customer is more
interested in advice than they are in your product. If you take
time to listen to their concerns and can provide them with
insight (along with your offer), your customer will be much more
satisfied than if you just delivered the "goods."

2) Pay attention to differences. Many times, it is easy to forget
that every person is different. What you know is different than
what your customer knows. You can listen much more effectively if
you realize that the customer might be using different terms than
you, or might even be seeing things from a completely different

This is where empathy comes in very handy. As you listen, try to
empathize with your customer -- put yourself into their shoes so
that you can have a better understanding of their wants, needs,
and fears.

3) Pay attention to feedback. To grow and survive, a company
needs to adapt. In order to adapt, it has to have sufficient
information to know what is needed and what is obsolete. For most
of us, the best source of this information is our customers. By
listening to the feedback and concerns of our customers, we can
get a better feel for what the market is looking for.

Communication is the cornerstone of customer service. To increase
our customers' satisfaction, we must make sure that we listen to
them as carefully as we would craft our advertising. Only by
listening can we meet the needs of our clients and make the kind
of reputation that leads to success.

About the Author

Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley's He provides copy-writing, marketing,
Internet promotion, and help for business speakers. Reach him at or 801-328-9006.

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