Marketing strategist Ardath Albee wants more businesses to listen to their clients and prospects. “Surface listening,” which is based solely on self-interested gains, just won’t cut it in 2009, and she urges companies to connect with clients on a deeper level. She uses the example of companies that hear criticism and immediately seek to gain control of the conversation and put up a defense, without ever getting to the root of the clients’ issues, or even truly listening for that matter. “Connecting with people in a way that builds engagement beyond momentary attention is critical for creating sustainable growth,” she writes in a recent article on RainToday. “People want you to solve their problems…give them a differentiating reason to buy from you by listening to what they’re saying and responding appropriately.” So how does one become a deeper listener? The following are a few of Albee’s suggestions to improve listening:

  • Don’t give in to knee-jerk reactions-wait to respond
  • Show that you are considering their input when receiving feedback from clients
  • Make a list of what you learn while listening for later evaluation
  • Integrate yourself into conversations, rather than pouncing on criticism-Try to understand where feedback is coming from

Read Albee’s entire article for more suggestions.