How do you always know just what your customer has in mind so you can used those well-polished skills to deliver on the project when it counts? It’s not just about being better when it comes to being hands-on. It’s about using those instruments attached your head called ears – because by improving your listening abilities, you can in turn improve your chances of having a very satisfied customer and possibly hearing the sweet sound of referrals too.

All of us are in the business of making people happy, right? Well, it stands to reason that people are happy when they feel they've been listened to and customers are no different. So here are 5 vital secrets involved with raising your antennae and raising your profitability at the same time:

  • Make it all about them.

Resist the urge to launch into touting your skills and everything you’re going to do to make their life better. There will be a time for that, but first, let them lead with their reasons for starting a project, including their questions and ideas. Commit to being a “sponge” that absorbs as much information as possible.

  • Make eye contact.

If you can’t look them in the eye, you may not be able to listen very intently on what they have to say either. When the eyes and ears are in sync rather than wandering, you put yourself in a better position to hear every valuable word. Which is especially important if your customer is a fairly fast talker!

  • Silence is golden.

So many of us rush to fill up conversation time. Don’t. If there’s a temporary pause, your customer may have some more thoughts to share, which can be that one extra piece of information you hadn't counted on. 

  • There are no “dumb” questions.

It’s better ask them of your customer to be on the safe side rather than assume. When do they want the job done? What’s their budget? Are there any other details to be aware of?

  • Take plenty of notes.

Your ears may pick up a lot of useful insight, but will you be able to recall all the details of the conversation word for word a few days later? Don’t leave it entirely up to your memory. There’s nothing wrong at all with having a notepad (or iPad if you’re tech savvy) to help you better remember the customer’s thoughts.

These steps need to practiced and committed to regularly for them to work, but they’re worth reinforcing. They’ll make your customer feel like they've been truly heard, which can go a long way toward winning projects.