If You’re Talking, You’re Not Listening

It may sound like a cliché, but keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. If you don’t feel you’re savvy enough to do it, find someone to be your barometer. But no matter what, you can’t delegate the client experience entirely.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have an emotional connection to your clients. It can’t all be based on cold impersonal transactions—there has to be some kind of bond at the center of it all. To foster this bond, you have to get out there and meet them yourself. Don’t let your ego stand in the way of doing your job. Get out of your ivory tower, and hit the streets, pound the pavement, and slap some hands!

Talk to your customers like they are your friends.

Don’t talk at them—have a real conversation with them. Look them in the eye, and listen to what they have to say. Prick up your ears. It’s amazing what you can find out when you aren’t just waiting for your chance to talk.

It’s crazy, but so many CEOs have these huge egos and think they know more than they do. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with having confidence, but overconfidence can get in the way of hearing honest feedback. If I’m describing you or maybe one of your business partners, let me tell you—so much of success is based on timing and luck.

So deflate those big heads, and stay humble. You are always at the service of your clients, no matter how big you get. Don’t just take it from me. Look at guys like Bill Gates, Sam Walton, or Charles Schwab—they’re billionaires who never got too big to attribute all their success to the people who deserve it.

The Greeks call having a big ego “hubris,” and from the beginning of time to now, it’s always been a problem for the successful. It not only clouds your judgment—it can taint any customer data you try to collect. How?

I’ve seen a lot of CEOs doing “client outreach” who end up talking to customers like they’re politicians on the campaign trail. These guys love hearing the sound of their own voice, so the conversations are one-sided. Whenever they hear a keyword come out of a customer’s mouth, the CEO pivots into a talking point. So what are they learning here? Nothing new. Don’t you see? It’s like cooking the books on customer feedback. These guys never learn anything other than stuff that validates what they think they already know.

When doing customer outreach, leave your ego at the door, and get real so your customers can get real with you. That way you can collect some real, raw, and useful information that isn’t skewed to any preconceived assumption.

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