Learn to Be a Great Listener in Your Local Small Business
It Is Critical that You Listen to Your Customers & Employees
In today’s episode: We discuss why it is critical that you stop and listen to your both your customers and your employees. But there is a difference between hearing and listening. We are guilty of hearing yet not really listening. Let’s discuss the difference and your small business will benefit from learning to become a better listener.
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Episode 84: Learn to Be a Great Listener in Your Local Small Business
Welcome back to the Local Small Business Coach Podcast. I am your coach, Tammy Adams.
Today we are going to take a look at the critical role that great listening skills play in your success as a small business owner.
Do you know the difference between hearing and listening? A long time ago, I was in this class where the trainer out of the blue, dropped a book on the ground and there was a huge thud. Of course, all our heads snapped up. She then asked the class if we knew the difference between hearing and listening. She reminded us, that we heard the book drop, but we weren’t listening for it to drop.
Most of the class was still confused so she went on to explain that way too often we hear what someone is saying, but we aren’t always listening to what they say. This made a lot of sense. The best example I can give you is this…
Think about the last conversation you had with your spouse or significant other. For many of you, you heard them talking but were you really listening to what they said? How often do you have that moment of wondering what the heck they have been mumbling about? Or maybe you got that snarky…”Are you even listening to me?” comment. This is a great example of where we are hearing, yet not listening to them.
Which leads me to the topic I want to discuss today. I want to stress the importance of learning to Be a Great Listener. Your ability to listen to what your customers and employees are saying can be a real game changer for you and your local small business.
In Stephen Covey’s Book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #5 is to Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood Far too often, when we are talking to someone, we are in our head thinking of our response vs just listening to what the other person is saying to us. We all are guilty of this, no matter how great of a listener you are. However, the key is to catch yourself and make that internal switch to listening mode vs response mode.
Let’s take a few minutes to look at why this important with both your customers and your employees.
Listen to Your Customers
The first group of folks that you must learn to listen to are your customers. Now remember, not just hear them, but to listen to them. You need to listen when they are telling you what they need or want, you need to listen when they are upset and you need to listen when they are talking about your products or services.
When folks are upset, they tend to get loud. They tend to take their anger out on whoever they are talking too. The problem is, when someone is yelling at us, we tend to go into defensive mode. We start thinking about what we want to say vs listening to what they are telling us. Odds are, they aren’t mad at you, but rather the situation. So don’t be defensive and start to listen to what they are bothered by, this allows you to rectify the problem vs escalating it further.
The best way to show them you are listening, is to repeat what you heard. Now, I don’t mean word for word, but rephrase what they are saying to show you understand what they are upset about. Then you can go into how you will resolve the situation. Remember, most people just want to be heard, they want to be listened to. They will feel 10 times better once they get it off their chest. Then they will be more open to listening to your solutions to the problem.
What products or services they want, not what you think they want
The next area that you really want to become a great listener at, is listening to your customers and clients when they are telling you what their needs are. Far too often we assume we know what they need vs listening for what they want.
The best way to listen to them is by asking the right questions. Ask them what their pain points are? What do they wish you carried or offered? And why? When I was with Home Depot, our founding father Bernie Marcus was great at this. He always asked folks what we could be doing better or what we should be carrying. Many of our changes came from those talks he has around the states.
What do you do to listen to your customers and clients?
Listen to Your Employees
The other key group of people that you want to make sure that you are listening to on a daily basis are your employees? A huge mistake that bosses make, is wearing that manager hat vs leader hat that we have discussed in the past. Leaders have learned that listening to their employees helps to ensure they have solid, happy teams. A big complaint that employees have, is that their boss doesn’t listen to them. They feel that their needs are being heard, that their ideas aren’t being heard and their concerns aren’t being heard.
Now, we all have worked for a boss that just nodded and kept working while we tried to talk to them. You know the type, tapping away on their computer or phone while you shared your concerns or asked your questions. Eventually you became frustrated and just walk away.
TOWN HALLS are GREAT
Ask your employees what tools and resources they need to do their job. Ask them what training do they need. Ask them what the customers are saying to them. Ask them what their concerns are. This reminds me of the Town Halls I use to do with Home Depot. As a leader, you pull in a group of employees and just let them share their concerns. Let them vent, let them share what they are hearing, let them tell you what would make things better. Take notes and just listen.
By the way, did you know that one of the top 5 reasons employees quit or are dissatisfied is due to not feeling listened to. Your goal is to make your folks feel heard. So, stop working while they are sharing, look them in the eye and repeat back what you heard, just like we discussed earlier for your customers. Remember, your folks have the same basic need to feel you are listening.
Quotes to Remember to Listen
This all reminds meet of a saying: The reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is to remind us to listen twice as much as we speak.
How often do you spend more time on listening vs speaking? Remember, our Success Habit from earlier: Seek First to Understand, then to Be Heard.
Both of these quotes are great reminders of the importance of why you want to be a great listener.
So, starting today, I want you to start asking your customers, your clients and your employees how your businesses can do better? What do they wish you would carry or offer? Then I want you to ask your employees what you could do better. What are their needs? What are the customers telling them? But most of all, shut up and listen. And remember: Learn to Be a Great Listener in Your Local Small Business
And as we wrap up this episode I want you to know, that I realize being a local small business owner can be a lonely gig at times. But you don’t have to do it alone. Just know, I’m always here for you.
Don’t forget, if you are looking to take your local small business to $100,000 in profit, head on over to LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com/8steps to download the free ebook & workbook called: 8 Steps Local Small Business Owners Need to Take to Make $100,000 in Profit. Where I walk you through how to double or triple your current profit level.
By the way, If you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.
And don’t forget to visit the website at LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com to leave your question for me to possibly answer on the podcast in the future. You can leave it via the Speakpipe button or just shoot me an email.
Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!
Bye for now…..
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Podcast Website: LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com
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Our Training Materials for Local Small Business Owners: TrainingforLocalSmallBusinessOwners.com
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My Recommended Bookkeeping Program for Local Small Business Owners: Freshbooks Link
Why? Helps you invoice quicker and more importantly, get paid quicker. Let’s you know when your clients have opened the email and they even help send reminders. Clients / customers can pay right from their phone or computer. Give it a Try: Freshbooks
**Freshbooks is an affiliate link. This costs you nothing. I only recommend due to how much folks have loved it. I am paid a small commission but trust me. Even I use it. Try it for free for 30 days and see if you don’t love it too!
Today's episode, as well as all of our episodes, is brought to you by trainingforlocalsmallbusinessowners.com. Where we provide free tips, tools and resources for your local small business. So whether you are just starting out or you've been in business for a while and want to learn more ways to increase your profit, boost your sales, improve your processes and develop stronger teams then head on over once again to trainingforlocalsmallbusinessowners.com..
And if you are Thinking of Starting a Local Small business, over at StartALocalSmallBusiness.com we have lots of free tools and resources to help you get your local small business started. Plus, we now have a more in-depth course to Help Get you going. It has 12 modules, 50 mini videos and 13 downloadable tools a person can use to start their local small business. You can find the link once again at StartALocalSmallBusiness.com. I also have set up a special discount code for listeners of the podcast. At checkout, just add the code PODCAST to save 25%.
See you on the next episode!
Two Great Books to Help You With Your Small Business:
Highly Recommend all Local Small Business Owners Read the eMyth by Micheal Gerber. You will learn some critical things about running your business.
The second book is one I wrote based off a popular example I always use when folks are trying to understand their role as a leader with their people. Check it out.
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