What customers really want

I recently watched that old noughties classic What Women Want. When Mel Gibson’s character woke up with the innate ability to understand what women really wanted – and I realised something,..

Partly that Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson’s character) didn’t actually figure out what women wanted, and more intriguingly (as someone who’s made plenty of mistakes in the past while talking to women AND customers), what women really want is what I’ve learnt customers really want, too!

Luckily for you, you don’t have to be a high-flying, chauvinistic, marketing exec who accidentally electrocutes himself in the bath with a hairdryer while waxing his legs to find out the answer… Just read on.

What women and (slightly less importantly) your customers really want is to be heard.

Simple right? Well, yes and no. Let me unpick it for you so you fully comprehend what I’m talking about – and listen carefully because I, too, appreciate being heard!

When someone is talking to you they are trying to communicate something – whether you deem it to be of value to you or not.

When spoken to, you have a choice – you can either listen or ignore them. If you value your life or your business you’ll be sensible and attempt the first option.

You then have another choice (and here comes the important bit) – you can either pretend to listen, or you can take an active interest in what is being said, clear your mind of your own agenda and seek to understand what is actually being communicated.

You see, listening is easy. You just keep your mouth shut (sometimes easier said than done, granted!) and nod your head at the right times,.

But to actually hear what is being communicated you need to pay attention to the meaning and the message behind the words being spoken. And that takes effort.

But if you really want to win over the heart and mind of a woman, or a customer, or any other human being on the planet for that matter, then you’d be wise to follow these 10 steps that will transform your communications with them:

  1. When being spoken to shut up, stop what you’re doing and give them your undivided attention.
  2. Clear your head of any expectations or hidden agendas. It’s not about you.
  3. If they say something you don’t understand, seek clarification.
  4. Only nod when you do actually understand – don’t try to fake it!
  5. Seek the meaning (the real need) behind the message by asking questions.
  6. Fight the burning desire to jump in – whether they are still talking or not, your sole objective is to ensure that they feel heard and that you really understand what they’re saying.
  7. When they agree that they’ve finished talking, say ‘So, if I’ve understood you correctly, what you need is…’ and repeat back to them what you heard, in their words, not yours, as this will demonstrate understanding.
  8. Wait for them to agree or, as is more than likely, amend your understanding – whereupon you might like to ask more questions for an even better understanding.
  9. Pause for reflection and ask ‘And is there anything else that you’d like to add that feels important?’ – because there nearly always is!
  10. When all is said and done and they feel adequately heard and you do truly understand, you may then ask ‘Would you care to know my thoughts?’… Assuming they grant you permission you may now dive in, otherwise keep your thoughts to yourself!

If the speaker in question is a customer, I would also follow up any such conversation with your written understanding of their ‘need agreed’. Not only will this cement you in your customer’s mind as a careful and attentive listener, it will give you written evidence of all discussions and a basis on which to review your proposed solution prior to committing yourself to a formal written proposal.

So there you have it – the answer to what women, customers, friends, family, enemies and random people really want… they ALL just want to be heard.

And unless they give you their express permission don’t assume they necessarily want to know your thoughts on it either – you have to earn the right to do that!

And now I’m finished talking, if you fully understood me or you seek further understanding, let me know!