How do you know you’re listening to your clients in the most effective way?

Listening is circular, and ends with the originating speaker receiving a message they need to respond to. There is a speaker and a listener, a message maker and a message receiver. And without a Sender and a Receiver, there is no message. Indeed, the definition of a communication includes having a sender and a receiver. In my humble opinion, listening is the most important part of a communication, because if we don’t hear what is being said, there are no grounds for communication. 

How do you know you are hearing what is intended for you to hear? 

How do you know you are hearing all of the underlying metatmessages? 
How do you know you are communicating in a way that allows your listening partner to know what you intend to convey? 
How do you know you are communicating effectively? 
How do you know that the message you heard was unbiased?

Think about this: who carries the responsibility of the communication – the speaker or the listener? The answer: the listener.

When you speak – pitch, lecture, teach – and you don’t know if your audience hears you in the way you intend to be heard, you have no idea if you’ve communicated. And it’s not their responsibility: they don’t know what to listen for, they don’t know how to manage their listening filters or biases, and they don’t know what is intended.

The speaker must make sure that the listener hears what they want to convey. The biggest problem is that the listener listens through a biased filter, and filters out what they want to ignore/avoid if it runs counter to their current beliefs (Remember: people are ‘systems’ also, and are only comfortable managing that which agrees with the network of beliefs, rules, relationships, etc. that maintain their status quo.).

Let’s see how the sales model can be enhanced when you are able to listen for the systems that underlie the buyer’s status quo. It’s vital that you recognize, here, what your job is: you are NOT selling or supporting a product decision at the buying decision phase of the sale: when you are leading the buyer through their buying decision, you are not doing sales, not listening for the cues as to how/when/where to place product, or how to ‘get in’ to have them recognize need, understand your product, or get into relationship with you. To help you, remember the following:

Fact: sales has focused on placing product. You will be placing product and selling AFTER the buyer recognizes and aligns all of their decision. 
Fact: buyers have no idea what to do with the product data you’re offering or how it will fit within their system or maintain system integrity until they do their OWN work of understanding, managing, and shifting their internal systems issues and make room for the change. 
Fact: if buyers were ready, willing, and able to fix their Identified Problem they would have done so already. Something in their system is preventing them and they can take no action until they manage their underlying systems issues. 
Fact: buyers don’t know how to manage their internal system shifts in a way that ensures when they bring in their new fix that they’ll end up happy and healthy.

Remembering these things as you begin learning about listening: you are NOT listening for how to ‘get in’, how to ‘place product’ or how to get a ‘yes’. If you can listen to ways to help buyers make the decisions they need to make to choose you, and know how to ask the right questions to help them manage their internal decisions, you’ll close more sales, quicker.

Sales is no longer about placing product; it’s necessary to help buyers make sense of their new buying criteria, and get onto their decision teams.

Use this economy as a way to change the conversation with your prospects. Make the collabortion between you be the focus, rather than a need or product sale – they most likely can’t buy now anyway.

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