About the interviewee
Marian J Thier founded and is the Partner in Listening Impact LLC. Her first, short-lived paying job was on a Soap, then she hosted three public TV programs, became a professor as well as college administrator, and naively gave up all that security to become a consultant, trainer, coach, and entrepreneur. She loves her work, respects colleagues, and appreciates clients.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
We are in Boulder, Colorado with a staff of four, plus twenty-three certified associates. We prefer to work with small to medium sized business when we know we can make a difference. That said, we say yes to Fortune 500 companies that realize their employees are not operating at their fullest capacity.
Tell us about why it is important for you to establish a relationship with your potential clients.
Our business, just like that of our clients, is dependent upon building and sustaining relationships. The only situation that communication isn’t paramount within an organization is in transactional selling; when there really isn’t selling, but order taking. Research indicates that at least 37B in revenue is lost yearly in US productivity that stems from poor communication, including inadequate relationships with internal and external customers.
What do you do to establish relationship with the key players?
In our company, Listening Impact, we use the same model that we coach our clients to use: spend 80% of initial time learning about the client’s business, concerns, strategies, and desired results; reflect on the information to check for understanding; share knowledge and expertise to provide information the client might not have or know about; ask client-centric questions to deepen mutual understanding; and only then, inquire about how your product or service might benefit the client.
What sales techniques have you found as ineffective in developing relationships, which ones work, and why?
We have not found any formulaic techniques to sales. Sales is about making connection, and there are a myriad ways of doing that well or poorly.
Problems arise when salespeople do not differentiate between having an agenda and having a purpose. Those who are counseled to develop an agenda, invariably live inside their own self-serving agenda instead of understanding the client’s needs. The purpose-driven salesperson creates solutions that are mutually beneficial and foster relationships that grow.
We tell clients to heed The Listening Golden Rule:
“Listen to others as they want to be heard.”