In this business, we all want to keep our clients happy.  Yet in this busy, fast paced go go go world, one key component is lacking – listening!

Instead of hearing what our clients are saying, we are so eager to “sell” our latest idea, fix a problem or answer a question, that we interrupt, ramble on and miss important knowledge and insights.

Listening is THE only way to provide a client with great ideas and plans. Yet instead of hearing what our clients are saying, our brain is busy rushing ahead preparing answers and plans.

Here are a few tips to help listen to clients.

Keep an open mind
Don’t go into a meeting with pre-conceived ideas about what is going to happen. Yes,  prepare an agenda. Yes, do the necessary research. And then, let the meeting happen.

Listen with intent
Actively listen to what your client is saying. Don’t jump in, or worse, interrupt. Provide answers when necessary. Remember, the goal is to keep the conversation going and lead to a plan of action.

Talk Less Than You Listen
Be present and be quiet. Yes, ask questions. Yes, provide answers. But let your clients speak, without interruptions.

Ask open ended questions
When asking questions, the aim is to get your client to share. Avoid simple yes and no questions. Instead, ask questions that will get you client to open up and share important insights.

It’s not personal
The client is always first… even when they are wrong!  Understand that this is part of business…any business not only the advertising business. It’s hard to sit in a meeting and have your latest ad torn apart after hours of work.

As tough as it can be, remember it’s not personal – this is business. Don’t get upset, interrupt, or get defensive. Hear what the client is saying and let them get it out.

Get off email
When a client sends an email expressing a concern, get it off email – quickly. Pick up the phone, or set up a meeting to talk it out. Then listen. This will lead to a solution quicker than having multiple emails going back and forth.  It’s so easy today to “duck” facing issues personally… but just because you can, doesn’t mean it’s the right approach to use.

Communication with clients is a two-way street. We do need to be persuasive “sales” people. But in order to achieve success, to obtain the “go ahead”  or buy in that we want, we need to listen first.