Buyers are Talking. Are You Listening?

“We have trouble being the kind of caring company we want to be while also ensuring accountability among our nearly 800 associates. It seems like when we do one, the other suffers.” The CEO and I were discussing the progress of a project I’d been working on when he said this to me.

Do you hear the opportunity in these comments? He was telling me about a significant barrier to fulfilling the company’s vision and values. If he allows these barriers to stand, the company’s revenue growth is constricted. I know that a company’s values and their need for performance accountability can reinforce each other when addressed. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Working with the CEO and the VP of HR, I created a program that weaves caring and accountability together. About twenty leaders in the company will come together for workshops and follow up with coaching over a few months. The CEO will be an active participant too, which ensures that he and the leaders are moving in unison towards the goal of a caring and accountable company.

Too many CEOs and Owners hamper their revenue growth because they don’t really hear what their buyers want. Buyers express wants and needs in the course of conversations. Yet because these comments aren’t specific (“We need two days of training”), or because the CEO or Owner only keeps a catalog of their existing offerings in mind, they go unaddressed.

As I write and advise all the time, your current buyers are the single best sources of new revenue. Creating new offerings for them is the easiest and most profitable way to generate that new revenue.

Here are three ways to improve your hearing and dramatically increase your revenue from your current buyers.

  1. Know the outcomes your own company helps your buyers achieve. Repeat them to yourself daily. Share them again and again with your employees. You are a solutions company not a raw materials supplier. (Even if you do supply raw materials, be clear about the outcome they support.)
  2. Encourage the practice of creating improvements and innovations to existing offerings. Recognize those who innovate and improve. Avoid the deadly reprimand “We don’t do that here.”
  3. Coach everyone who speaks to any buyer at anytime to improve their listening skills. Get rid of your sales process training and build up everyone’s communication skills.

Above all, demonstrate effective listening and creative improvement and innovation yourself. As the CEO or Owner, people will emulate you. If you say one thing and do another, your people will do what you do.

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