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Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving

open Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving.

— Steve Johnson, Under 10 Consulting.

After my post on techniques for handling questions in a presentation I started thinking about other questioning situations.

Have you ever been in a customer advisory board? How much did you talk and how much did you listen? After all, the idea of a customer advisory board is for customers to advise you. Yet in so many cases, vendors deliver one presentation after another. Talk talk talk.

In a recent customer advisory board, we used my quick prioritization technique for the major items on the roadmap as a way to elicit the top issues from the clients. Afterward a few of the clients asked for a copy of my presentation so they could use the same techniques for prioritization of their projects. After all, we all need to focus.
You can learn a lot just by listening.

A friend told me about a rather funny sales call. The salesperson introduced my friend as the "expert on everything" and said, "Go ahead and start your presentation." Instead my friend asked a few questions about common issues. The clients shared a tremendous amount of information about their environment, their challenges, and their evaluation. After 30 minutes or so of this discussion, my friend ran through a few slides and showed exactly how the product could address the client's issues. Instead of the old "show up and throw up" technique. Nice.

I'm often amazed at the incredible amount of information one can learn when talking to a client—particularly a lost client—if you just ask a few questions and listen to what they have to say.

Think about your last customer interaction. Were you trying to skip all that tedious talking to get to your presentation? Or did you listen and tailor the presentation to the client's issues?

You can learn a lot just by listening.

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