Anyone who’s been successful at sales will tell you that listening is a lot more important than talking. What you hear has at least as much impact than what you say.
Great salespeople ask open-ended questions, then listen to the answers. Only then do they think about whether they can solve the prospect’s problem, and what the solution might be.
This should be the rule for marketers, too. But it’s not, is it? Mostly, marketers think about what to say, how to say it and who to say it to. Yet there have never been more ways to listen before you market. And when you do, you spend smarter.
Take social media. It’s all about content. Except that it isn’t. It’s about engagement. That’s a two-way street. Which means marketers should think less about pushing product information and PR in the social sphere, and more about asking questions that get fans and followers commenting and sharing.
What questions should you ask? Start with two. What do they love? And what do they hate? Find out what drives customers in or drives them away – or just what drives them crazy. Then you earn the right to talk about how you fit into that picture.
Then there’s digital. Use all that targeting technology and tracking data to talk with prospects. Did they find what they were looking for? Why did they abandon that purchase? What could have gone better? Click here to help us get better – and you could win.
Email works this way, too. Instead of impressing recipients with what you’ve done or what you’re selling, think about asking a question or three. Maybe even invite them to get together in the real world to share their experiences, expectations and disappointments.
This works across all media. Sponsor a call-in session on the radio to let people vent about your industry. Throw an opinion hotline up on a billboard. The possibilities are nearly endless. And so is the wealth of information you could harvest.
And here’s the biggest benefit. When you’re a good listener, you broaden and deepen your appeal. That’s what brand-building is for. As a truly great salesperson once said, to make your sales go up, shut up and listen up.