listening is not overrated

I recently had an experience working with a company who’s bidding on a project for one of our clients. The project scope is small and well defined. We needed someone to help making it happened quickly. This company is small and looking for opportunities to grow. We wanted to work with them and help them getting started. When we met and discussed the details of the project, we thought they understood what we needed and were promised an outline of the proposal.

A few days later we received a much-elaborated proposal with on-going support and retainer agreement. We realized that we were not on the same page.

While their focus is trying to grow the company, their approach to it is somewhat one-sided. They failed to listen very carefully to the problems we’re currently facing. What they could have done is to immediately help solving the problems and establishing that initial relationship as well as proving they’re a good partner to work with. And once the engagement is over, come back with a plan that would benefit the client in the long run. But they did not. They wanted an immediate commitment that the client isn’t looking for at the moment.

This sounds simple but a lot of people don’t do it right. Listening is a very important skill. The ability to listen and interpret what business really need so we can provide a mutually beneficial solution is key to establishing trust and credibility.

Walking away from it I feel the up-selling process this company takes is a classic example of not having good listening skills. Sometimes we all are so focused on growing the business, we forget the point of being in business is to help others to be successful. With clients and partners being successful, it helps us stay in business. Simple as that.

Cuong is the founder of Enliven. He is an expert in user experience and design, product launches, and business development.