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The Art of Listening to Your Customers

“Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

Nobody will ever object to the advice that you need to listen to your customers. But it’s so easy to forget. Why don’t we listen?

The Internal Monologue

Like many others, whenever I get ready to speak or respond, my mind gets busy, even overwhelmed, crafting the perfect message, anticipating objections, and formulating persuasive arguments. Buzzing with thoughts, my focus shifts inward, and I miss valuable insights from the external world. (I don’t think I’m alone here!)

The Fear of Silence

Another problem – silence makes me uncomfortable! I rush to fill it with my own words, believing that a pause in dialogue is a failure in communication. As I rush to say something of value, I have trouble fully absorbing what the person across from me is saying.

A Memorable Moment

At a recent meeting with our Customer Advisory Board, we prepared a slide to recap new features we had added before our previous meeting. It was meant to be a quick fly-by slide to set the context for future roadmap discussions. I was carefully setting the context for future roadmap developments I wanted to share. 

As I was going over the slide – quickly so I could get to the part I thought was important – I was lucky that I picked up on a change in body language. People physically leaned in and started to engage. It was enough to get me curious and pull me out of my head.

With a bit of active listening, we learned something important. We had done a poor job of informing customers of our existing and recently added features. And they liked a lot of these existing features! Our upcoming features were important, but our customers wanted more of what we could already offer.

Getting Out of Your Head

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Quiet the inner dialogue, and you can truly hear what others are saying.” – Stephen Covey

We gained some great insights that day (as always) from our customers that will improve our product, our service, and our value. So go ahead, get out of your head today, and listen to those around you. You’ll be happy with the results!

Tom Simon is the Chief Executive Officer for Mountain Pass Solutions.

A growth-focused startup software executive, Tom has a proven history of success working with industry giants, including Intel, Kellogg’s, Deloitte Consulting, and Valassis. Developing strategy and tactics to strengthen the internal team and its roadmap, Tom has successfully used his leadership to advance core customer relationships and generate sustainable growth for Mountain Pass Solutions.