What the Dalai Lama actually said was,

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”  

But if I’m being totally candid, sometimes I wish the Dalai Lama had been a bit more direct in explaining the value of listening instead of talking. Especially business people–and marketers in particular.

If you think about it, the vast majority of time and money we invest in marketing and sales is on outreach. Social media, content marketing, email campaigns, telemarketing, inbound marketing, events, account-based marketing. Sometimes it feels like the flavor of the year–or month.

And when you add it all up our customers just hear and see a giant wall of noise. Which of course makes it harder for each subsequent marketing and sales message to get through. That about sums up today’s marketing-industrial complex, a battle of mutually assured destruction where companies are trying to break through the clutter–but end up just creating more of it.

What can we do to prevent wasting our collective breath (and budgets) shouting at the marketplace? The answer–which I’ve learned over the course of 20+ years in the marketing wars–is shockingly simple:

Before we open the marketing an sales floodgates (or shoot the lock off the company’s wallet, as a former colleague says), we must spend more time getting the customer’s real perspective. It’s there for the asking.

By posing the right questions in the right way–in the right setting–you will get new insights that will supercharge your business. Clearer positioning, more meaningful differentiators and more relevant messaging.

These are the foundations of successful marketing and sales that too often get overlooked.  Get them right and all of your marketing and sales investments work harder.

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