"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
— Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Great relationships, whether personal or professional, start with asking the right questions and truly listening to what other people have to say.
Sometimes our questions are specific and centered around help we seek or can provide; other times (such as sales discovery calls or first dates) we ask questions for no other reason than to learn about people and discover commonalities on which we can build long-term, meaningful relationships. Either way, the ability to listen carefully and respond appropriately is at the heart of any successful relationship — whether it’s with your spouse, your friends, your team or your customers.
Marketer on a Mission
Throughout my career in sales and marketing — at Silverpop and elsewhere — I’ve learned a great deal about communication and the importance of listening. I’ve learned that strong communication with my sales team is the the key to developing best-in-class talent. I’ve also seen how technology can foster better communication and stronger connections between people around the globe. For example, at Silverpop, the data that drives our marketing software enables our customers to build relationships with their customers, and to deliver exactly what they want and need.
Listening is a vital skill for anyone, but especially for today’s marketers. That’s why I’m making it my blogging mission in 2014 to help you build and hone your listening muscles.
Some Things Never Change
Sure, digital marketing is now more automated and personalized than ever, and we all need to keep up. But if I’ve learned anything from the technological advancements of the last 15 years, it’s that while some things change, and better options are introduced, one thing remains the same: The best sales and marketing people are, more often than not, the best communicators. Simply put, they have learned how to listen to their customers and respond in a way that resonates with their target markets.
But that learning doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s a distinction between hearing and listening. For most, hearing is a natural, unintentional response to sound. Listening, however, requires effort and being open to learning new skill sets.
The Art of Listening: There’s Lots to Say
That’s why I’m introducing a new, year-long series of blog posts focused on marketing listening and response. Over the course of 2014, I’ll answer such questions as:
- What does it mean to be a good listener?
- How can listening strengthen your personal and professional relationships?
- Are you truly listening to your team and your customers?
- What happens when we ignore our teams and customers?
- How does listening make you a better marketer?
- How can sales and marketing pros become better listeners?
- How do you effectively respond to what your customers are telling you?
- How does marketing technology enable you to respond powerfully and become an industry leader?
A Two-Way Street
I’m really looking forward to sharing my knowledge, experiences and listening best practices with you. But listening is a two-way street, so I want to hear from you as well.
If you have comments or personal stories you’d like to share along the way, or questions you’d like me to address, please post them at the end of each blog or share your thoughts with me via Twitter. After all, what good is a blog series on communication if we don’t have relevant conversations along the way?
1) Blog: “Be Quiet and Start Listening: 3 Reasons to Start Building Relationships Before You have an Email Address”
2) Video: “Behavioral Marketing Defined”
3) White Paper: “Creating Real-Time Individualized Campaigns Around Every Imaginable Buyer Behavior”