How to Lock-in Your Clients – 1: Listen to them

Many small businesses face this issue.

Listening skills for small business

“I want my customer to stay with me and not go to the competition. How do I do that?”

Many small businesses think that making their clients stay is difficult and complex. Nothing can be farther from truth. It’s simple, easy and, best of all, does not cost anything.

Most [means all :-)] people have a need-the need to feel important; the need to be acknowledged and understood; the need to feel valued and cared for. When you deliver a service, the above needs come to the fore. When a client’s need for feeling important is not satisfied, it hurts him/her and feel neglected. They complain – “service is poor.”

How do you make the client feel important and cared for? There is one simple way.
Listen to your client well. It’s as simple as it sounds. And it’s easy to implement.

How do you listen better? The first thing to do is to start with YOU. You must develop a desire to listen to your client.

DESIRE to listen

You must develop a desire to listen to your client. What does she have to say? Listen patiently and wait until he/she is finished. If something is not clear, ask him/her at the logical moment. The desire to listen must be as a receiver of information- not as a critic. The desire is to understand the client and not to make her agree to something or to change her opinion.

If you get this, the rest are all details. It’s just a matter of time you will be able to listen better. If you don’t it’s unlikely that you will improve. So I suggest that you check for yourself if you have the desire.

Once you have the desire, it is time to go beyond understand the how to listen better. I recommend these good resources that give you very good grounding on how to improve your listening skills.

1. How to be a good listener

2. Practicing listening skills

3. Eight barriers to effective listening

In addition, the table below (Source: Active listening: Skills Associated with Empathy ) summarizes what you should do.

It breaks down listening skill into detailed tasks. It’s a good check list of activities that you can do to improve your listening skills.

What you should do

What it means

Attending, acknowledging

Providing verbal or non-verbal awareness of


other, i.e. eye contact

Restating, paraphrasing

Responding to person’s basic verbal message


Reflecting feelings, experiences, or content

that has been heard or perceived through cues


Offering a tentative interpretation about the

other’s feelings, desires, or meanings

Summarizing, synthesizing

Bringing together in some way feelings and

experiences; providing a focus


Questioning in a supportive way that requests more

information or that attempts to clear up confusions

Giving feedback

Sharing perceptions of the other’s ideas or feelings;

disclosing relevant personal information


Showing warmth and caring in one’s own individual way

Checking perceptions

Finding out if interpretations and perceptions

are valid and accurate

Being quiet

Giving the client time to think as well as to talk

Your clients will love you if you develop listening skills. That’s because they don’t have good professionals – those who care for them and value them-and so are looking for them. If you can show them that you are ‘good’ and are willing to listen to them, they will give you more business.

Before I close this post, I would like to tell you that having listening skills alone will not cut it. You have to perform. You have to deliver what the client wants. You have to do what the client is paying you to do. But you can expect better loyalty from them because you’ve listened better.

I hope you will be able to imbibe listening skills and delight your clients!

About the author: Chaitanya Sagar is an expert in small businesses and is the CEO of, an online marketplace for services like writing, business consulting, research, software, online-tutoring etc. You can find good service providers and collaborate with them on p2w2. He blogs at You can Subscribe to RSS feed here.

Picture: LifeDynamix

7 Replies to “How to Lock-in Your Clients – 1: Listen to them”

  1. Chaitanya,

    Fantastic article! Listening to the most important person in your business sometimes gets forgotten in the deluge of daily tactical stuff that is part of operations. Customer is always right about the results they want to see.


  2. For me showing warmth and caring in one’s own individual way has the most benefits.I’m a real believer in karma as strange as that may sound. Thanks for the insights Chaitanya

  3. Chaitanya,

    I think that Providing verbal or non-verbal awareness is the crucial point here. Also learning to “mirror” the other persons visual signs in a non threatening way is a powerful and under used technique.


  4. Hi Chaitanya – I completely agree with your post. I have always adhered to the principal of listening to the client and only interrupting when I can make a valid point or add value. Mark

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