In a culture that, in the short-term, rewards speed, strong points of view, and tactical activity, listening is a lost art.
I recently had two experiences in meeting with prospects that highlighted the value of listening and getting the other person to talk. Both were referred to me and wanted to meet to see if I could handle a few tactical projects. The more questions I asked, the more the prospects shared about their business, their personal interests, their frustrations, and the dynamics and trends driving their industry.
After an hour with one of the prospects, he said, "I feel like I'm doing all the talking," and at that point, I knew the conversation was going well. I transitioned and said, "Let me tell you what I've heard from you and where I think you have some opportunities and you can tell me if you feel like I have a firm grasp of where you want to go."
Much of what I told him was information he already knew, but he needed someone with a marketing mind to analyze what he said, repeat it back in a clear, organized fashion, and present a strategic framework of possible solutions. While I shared some relevant case studies, I never attempted to make the fast, easy, tactical sale or convince him that I was the man for the job. I didn't have to make a full-court press for the business - the process was organic and the deal signed itself.
Listening, connecting, understanding, caring, and delivering - those are the keys to successful marketing and business development.