PPAI Magazine September 2023

Voices | Your Business Shchus / Shutterstock.com Listening On A Deeper Level Customers and employees are telling you exactly how they want to communicate. Can you pick up on their cues? by Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE BY NOW WE’VE ALL HEARD many brands refer to their marketing efforts as a “conversation” with customers. But I think that cliché misses the mark by quite a bit. Yes, you could think of marketing as the things you’re saying to clients. So much of marketing is about expressing the combination of ideas, values and opportunities you bring to the table. But that by itself is not a conversation with a person. That’s talking at someone. For a business to succeed, it needs to pay mind to the other important aspect of any good conversation: listening. And in the conversation you’re having with clients, this is where sales comes to the forefront. What is selling if not taking account of what a customer needs, considering their unique situation and understanding them on a deeper level so that you can best support them? It’s a fine metaphor, but promo pros would be smart to consider the point more literally. The brilliant thing is, intentional listening sets you up to deliver exactly what a client wants when it’s your turn to speak about all the great solutions you have in mind for them. We all know the basics of listening with intention. Put your phone away, look them in the eyes, ask important questions and so forth. But what I’m talking about goes deeper. If you’re really listening and paying attention to a client, you can begin to read who they are and how they want you to approach the situation. Just like a friend sharing their relationship struggles or a co-worker venting their work frustrations, your client wants to be understood. When you make an effort to read them and understand how they best interact, you set yourself up to be a rewarding conversation partner. I can look back on times early in my career, working in true sales roles, when I wish I’d known to make a more intentional effort to read people, particularly their preferred communication styles, and in turn adjust my 42 • SEPTEMBER 2023 • PPAI