Two Ears, One Mouth

One of my goals in life is to be a world class listener. I don’t know if I will make it, but I am working very hard to improve every day. Why? Because I know that real learning can only take place if you are the one that isn’t talking. How do you do when it comes to paying attention?

Who are you talking to? Are you listening?

I realize that many of the big retailers, bedding producers and even some of us suppliers spend money on consumer research. I think those of us who are doing that deserve a good grade. How about the rest of you? During the product development phase, are you reaching out to your target audience? When you are creating new services at retail, do you ask your customers what they think before you spend a bunch of money on a new program? I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people in this industry copy an idea, product or service that someone else is also doing when neither of them bothered to ask the target audience what would best fulfill their needs. As a result, it all failed.

Maybe you think that paid research is too expensive, which may indicate you don’t fully understand the value given that research done correctly pays big dividends. Even if you don’t invest you can take a different approach and do some for free. Spend the weekend on the selling floor. If I were a betting man (which I am), I have a pay check that says there are not too many senior executives in our industry that EVER spend time on selling floors. Riddle me this Batman: How can we make good decisions on products and services when we are not dialed in to that moment of truth when the sale takes place? Call your CEOs or senior level marketing and sales people today and ask them when the last time was that they actually worked a floor.

Every single time I am out in a market talking to RSAs, I learn something I didn’t know. What I am saying is that you can’t possibly get the same impact sitting in the ivory tower hearing it from someone else. Stop making decisions on what you think you know, and instead improve your chances for success by seeing what is happening firsthand where it really matters. Remember, listening builds trust and prevents you from trying to hit a target from a distance with a shot gun.  What am I missing here? What are you thinking?

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