What is the World’s Best Sales Tool? Here’s a hint: it comes in pairs and most people are born equipped, though it’s often not used to it’s full potential. Ready for the answer? (Drumroll) A set of ears!
I came to this conclusion after a recent trip to a well-known audio gear chain store (rhymes with Sitar Schmenter – you know the one). I’d done my research and I was 99% sure of what I wanted. Then I made the mistake of asking the very nice sales clerk one simple question. This led to him leading me down a rabbit hole of interesting, but not all that pertinent information. At one point I interrupted him to say that I work with digital audio professionally and was pretty sure I knew what I wanted, hoping to cut to the chase. He clearly heard me, but just as clearly didn’t listen. At the end of our discussion I walked out without the piece of equipment but with something more valuable: the resolve to be a better listener for my own clients.
For a voiceover artist this can really come in handy when reading the project breakdown. In this day of firing off auditions as fast as possible, it’s easy to miss a note regarding the voice range, style, or target audience. Every voice is not right for every project, and carefully reading the breakdown (i.e. “listening” to what the client is saying) can help me avoid wasting the clients’ time and jeopardizing any future opportunities I might have with them.
The same goes for taking notes and doing retakes on booked jobs. By this point in a project the lines of communication are ideally wide open, so listening is critical in avoiding repeated pickup sessions. A simple but effective tool is repeating back what I think the client is getting at, to see if I’d heard or interpreted it correctly. It really seems to help to home in on a final read.
If there’s an industry where listening is not valued, I haven’t heard of it. Get it? Heard? So here’s to people who have that most important of business skills, the ability to really listen!