On the weekend I was watching the greatest show on television right now – Mad Men. The agency had just lost their anchor client and they were horribly desperate to get some new business. The partners were considering their options when they were informed that an ideal prospect was willing to meet with them and hear their ideas. It was music to my ears when the most senior partner of the firm said of the potential meeting “we will listen more than we talk”.
Too often in the early stages of bringing a new concept to a potential customer people get caught up in trying to sell whatever they have rather than trying to learn what might be desired. This is usually because the new product representative is so excited/desperate to gain acceptance from a potential customer that they miss the fact that the customer is often very willing to let them know a great deal about how best to proceed– if only they would shut up and listen.
Asking the right questions and paying as much attention as possible to every detail of the answers is most often not only the best way to get your overall product, marketing and sales plans on the right track, but is usually the best way build a relationship and close that specific sale opportunity as well. In helping companies and their teams to effectively engage and listen to their initial prospects we have not had one case where the learning that resulted did not adjust either their product or their target market or both.