hush2_95535985Thoughts from Adam

If you’re like me, you used to walk into client meetings heck bent on one thing: talking.

And why not? You’re the hired, experienced, trusted researcher. So you talked. You talked about your product. You talked about your quality. You talked about your competitor’s product and quality. You even crafted your questions to illicit more information so that you could keep talking.

It’s talking, we thought, that made us Experts. Sherpas. The Ones With All the Answers.

And then we learned better.

We now know the real experts in this business close their mouths. Open their ears. And let their clients give them the good stuff. Because clients know their own targets better than we ever will. Discounting this level of deep, intimate knowledge means missing out on a wealth of insights that can fuel a more cost- and time-effective experience for everyone.

We now know the real experts in this business close their mouths. Open their ears. And let their clients give them the good stuff. Because clients know their own targets better than we ever will. Discounting this level of deep, intimate knowledge means missing out on a wealth of insights that can fuel a more cost- and time-effective experience for everyone.

The question is: can this concept be adopted without trial-by-fire? Is it possible to accelerate the learning curve when it comes to recognizing the line between where clients need our guidance, and where they can guide our thinking? And, even more challenging, how to do you teach your team how to teach their clients the value of this distinction?

The first step is simply remembering that it exists. Our innate ability to translate clients’ objectives into actionable goals is so seamless that we often forget that we’re doing it. The fastest way to impart this skill to others is to point it out.

Take the time, either before the meeting (best) or immediately after (still effective), to highlight examples of how solid listening skills can translate into even better profits. Use your own mistakes…err, experiences…to help your team visualize the benefit of silence.

At the end of the day, client relationships are the same as any other. We all want to be heard. This is about tossing aside egos and trusting everyone in the room. Because when we effectively marry what our clients know, with what we know, the result is some seriously solid work.

And all we have to do to get there is shut up and listen.