With 2014 industry events behind us, we reflect on how each conference and event reshapes and energizes the marketing research industry. Our competitors are tough; the industry is shifting, and our client demands change day to day. Lightspeed GMI established a new identity -- to make research easy and in doing so, we will streamline the company's diversified portfolio across the consumer, B2B, financial and healthcare business segments. No matter the brand, no matter the conference, one thing remains the same – the universal focus on clients.
Now, I’ve never been to a client meeting I haven’t liked. Good meeting – bad meeting, they are all good, if you ask me. If you listen at a client meeting and really understand what your client is saying, there will be opportunities. This is the definition of a good meeting. I have found that clients are just waiting to be asked. Asked how the sales team is doing that sells to them – asked how the ops team is doing that delivers to them – and asked how the overall relationship is doing. Clients want to tell you how things are going – all you have to do is ask. And then listen.
Now listening isn’t easy and it isn’t natural for some people. Many salespeople want to hear themselves speak, or have a burning desire to talk about their newest product with the objective of selling something.
But you know what gets in the way of a client buying something? The salesperson not listening.
And what is it that the client really wants?
In my experience, clients want to be heard. If you are speaking for more than 35% of your meeting, then you are doing something wrong. It means you don’t ask enough questions, or haven’t researched your client to know the right questions to ask. Homework is critical, as that will prepare you for asking the right questions. And asking the right questions leads to what? That’s right – it leads to listening.
Now, I am a talker. I know it. I love to hear myself talk. And I can fill empty space with the best of them. But I also know that I have to put my love of my voice away when with a client and put them at the center of the conversation. I ask questions. I listen. I take notes. I ask more questions. By doing this, I learn a lot about my client and end up leaving the meeting with a list of opportunities.
For those who are uncomfortable asking questions – just think of it this way: Ask ‘Why’ questions. Why did you do this? Why do you feel this way? Why did you decide to move in a specific direction? (If you are a parent, you know all about asking Why questions)
Why questions require explanations. They cannot be answered with a yes or no. It’s the same with my children. If I don’t ask them Why questions, all I ever get from them is a yes or a no. Good conversationalists know how to ask Why questions. It’s easy when you get the hang of it. Try it at home if you need some practice before trying it with a client.
So remember…. do your research…ask questions…listen…. take notes…. and repeat repeat repeat and you will leave your meeting with more opportunities that you can imagine.