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Seek first to understand

Time To Learn Sign Shows Learning Or Studying NowIn his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R Covey’s 5th habit is to Seek first to understand then to be understood. Essentially you should listen intently with the objective of understanding.

I spent twenty five years in commercial radio in the UK. I was trained to conduct a thorough fact find, or situation analysis, with every client in order to ascertain their needs or wants. In this way I could be sure of recommending the right course of action for the client, given their position.

It was important to establish what motivated them to start their business in the first place, what their values were and where they wanted to be in one, three or five years. In addition I would conduct a full SWOT analysis with them, question them on their competition, unique selling points and their plans for the future.

During the fact find I would also drill down into each product or service the client offered, how important it was to the client’s profitability, turnover and general marketing mix, who the target market was and how the client was reaching the people that were likely to become customers.

Once I had conducted the fact find, I would apply my knowledge of the client’s business to what I had to offer. Only then could I recommend the right campaign for the client’s situation.

In recommending the right campaign it was essential that I had a thorough understanding of what the campaign might be able to achieve for my client, how we might construct the message they would be broadcasting to their target market in order to get the best response and how I was going to do this within their budget.

The point I am trying to make is that unless we understand our customers’ needs or wants we don’t know where the opportunity lies for us as a business. This applies equally to business to consumer clients as it does to business to business.

This process begun whilst I was qualifying each prospect before I even lifted the telephone to call them. I knew which business sectors got the best response from radio up and down the country, I knew the profile of the listeners tuning into the radio station and I knew the investment required for an effective campaign. With this information I was able to contact the companies I knew I could help – all I needed to do was find out what they needed or what they wanted.

Even though I knew we could help certain businesses, I still needed to understand the individual business before I and indeed the client knew I could help them. The situation analysis helped me build rapport with the client, asking pertinent questions which made him or her think about how radio could or indeed would help them.

I helped more than 10,000 businesses across my twenty five years in radio, from the smallest retailers, restaurants and pubs to home improvement companies, motor dealers and mobile phone businesses. I would never have been taken seriously had I not gone into the relationship with the aim to seek first to understand what it was that the client wanted or needed before giving them a solution. Get in touch with E Business Coaching today.

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