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Why brands need to start actively listening

As a sales professional, I participated in many sales training sessions. One that always stuck with me was Hoffman training: “Listen to your customers. If you listen to your customers, they will love you, respect you, and never forget what you’ve done for them. Today B2B sales reps struggle more and more with active listening. This is evident with companies like Gong and Chorus coming on to the scene to help entry-level sales improve their active listening.

Take a second to think about experiences with B2C sales associates. If I visit a local Home Depot I would talk to a grill expert to find the perfect grill for my home. They would ask me questions and through active listening, they help me find the best grill. If they talk to 7-8 buyers like me in one location per day? How do they record this experience? Home Depot has 1,000 locations, we can assume they talk to 4-6K people per day just about grills? Doubled on weekends. How do they record and learn to improve the customer experience?

Now, let’s discuss how brands “engage” with their consumers today. More and more brands are going direct-to-consumer online. But instead of warm greetings and questions, they hit you with filters on the left.

70% of the filters lead with “best-selling product”; price high or low? When you are buying something and you’re not the expert, what kind of question is answered by organizing based on the best selling product?

If the best-selling grill is the cheapest, smallest, and portable grill that can fit 2 steaks that will not fit my needs when I expect to grill 10-12 steaks at a time.

So why don’t my brands listen to me? Why don’t they listen to you? According to Think with Google, in the last 4 weeks, 30% of online buyers bought from a new brand they never purchased from, and 25% cannot find what they are looking for online. If brands don’t start listening and educating their customer, brand loyalty will die. Over 73% of consumers have indicated they will remain loyal to the brands that have been helpful through their purchase journey amid the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Now, let’s talk about Microsoft. They sell thousands of products for consumers; they are a global household name with significant name recognition and consumer trust associated with years of using their product suite. Work from home, gamers, kids taking online classes, Microsoft has a solution in almost every category in consumer electronics. Microsoft records thousands of conversations per day from their customers with online sales assistants. 

As you can see from the above video, Microsoft digitized the in-store experience we are accustomed to with an expert: asking the same questions, narrowing down available options based on what the I, the consumer, need to understand before purchasing. Microsoft is also recording what questions drive the best behavior, what’s converting, and what products are in the best interests for further development. By providing superior engagement that is customer-centric, Microsoft increases brand loyalty with every visitor that engages with them, while simultaneously driving higher conversion rates and learning from their active listening of what matters to their customers. 

The outcome of active listening, whether you are a B2B sales rep, on the sales floor at Home Depot, or selling D2C, is a strong relationship with your customer. Those who prioritize providing engaging, customer-centric search experiences on their digital channels will be the winners. Like my best sales trainers have always said, “listen to your customer, and they will always love and respect you.”

Click here to watch how Zoovu helps brands drive conversation and listen to their customers across digital channels. 

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David Donlan serves as the Chief Revenue Officer for Zoovu in Boston, MA. Prior to Zoovu, Donlan helped launch prominent Boston-based start-ups such as Crayon.co (employee number: 5) and HubSpot (employee number: 20).