2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #7: Asking…and not listening to your market, is worst than not asking at all…


header harry michel

A number of organizations are so focused to achieving their objectives that they stop listening to their market. Oh, they ask the right questions, (like they are supposed to) but they only hear the answers that are in alignment with their internal goals, understanding, and historical data. The market (your market) has changed as I discussed in my post interviewing salespeople. So asking open ended questions in your market is imperative to gaining current information and understanding the buying process of today’s market. When organizations ask, but not authentically listen, they create more damage in the trust between their team and their market than if they never would have asked in the first place.

I received an email invitation to attend a telephone town hall being held by Harry Mitchell. What the message said was;

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell will participate in two live telephone town hall meetings to discuss the issue of health care and health insurance reform on Wednesday, August 26, with individuals residing in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District.

“I believe that the telephone town hall format maximizes the ability to engage respectfully on the issue with folks across the district,” Mitchell said. “Reaching more people and taking more questions provides an opportunity to constructively listen to the thoughts, concerns and opinions of people and to answer their questions about the proposals in Congress.  I also want to highlight the provisions where there is bipartisan agreement and on benchmarks I believe should be met in order to gain my support.”

I have followed Harry Mitchell since moving to Arizona and what appeals to me is he seems to be a regular guy, someone I could call and have a conversation with. Someone, unlike a number of representatives in Washington, he is one of us. On his website he does a much better job than the Obama administration in clearly stating his views;

As I meet with people throughout the district, many have shared with me personal stories about health care.  Like most Arizonans, I believe that rising costs and the threat of losing existing coverage is cause for great concern.

Our health care system needs reform and I believe that it should be comprehensive. Reform should not only improve access to affordable and quality care for all Americans, but it also needs to also preserve individual choice and protect competition in the marketplace.  Reform should not leave individuals with fewer options, should not add to the national deficit, and should not leave doctors with inconsistent and low reimbursement rates as is often the case with Medicare.

This page closes with:

While our advances in the health care system are the envy of the world, too many Arizona families and businesses are facing skyrocketing costs, the threat of losing coverage, or denied care by their insurance companies.  Reform needs to protect what works and fix what doesn’t.  Any solution must first start with an open and honest conversation that gives all of the stakeholders in the debate a seat at the table.  That includes you.

As legislation works its way through Congress, I will continue to review the bill and monitor its changes.  I have also created this resource page where you can also read the bill, access information about the legislative process, and contact me with your thoughts.

Awesome, he clearly has done what I ask business leaders to do;

go out into your market, discover their needs and unresolved problems listen and do not try to overcome their objections…

Here’s my concern; Is a telephone conference call truly the best venue for you Harry, and your brand?

I do not think so, and I think it will be the biggest strategy mistake in your career….but I may be wrong. For me it is an interruption in your Brand. But then again all who Am I? I live in Arizona, I am a Republican, and I help business people connect with their markets which ultimately results in explosive growth. However, what this “feels” like is you are trying to control the voice of the customer. Whoever recommended a telephone conference, in my opinion, should be asked to serve in another capacity on your staff. I thought it might just be me, so I asked a number of friends, and unfortunately perception is reality and the perception is you are afraid, and you want to control the venue. The reality may be you truly want to serve more people in a better way; however the execution does not match your Brand so we are Branding you by Default.

I tried to sign up for the telephone conference but your web site said;

Note: Due to heavy traffic, we are experiencing delays with our email system. If you encounter difficulties, please return later and try again.

Did you not expect heavy traffic? Did your advisor not research what was necessary to support this venue, support you?

Here’s the problem, we the American people have lost trust. The shame is you “feel” like a great , Authentic guy next door, (like someone I wrote about ), however this teleconference “feels” like you will be “telling and selling” not listening.

It feels like you are trying to control the voice of your customers and shape a confirmation of what you already believe and not listen and learn.

When you ask buyers why they do not buy, most think it is price, or the product is not right…but what buyers tell you the top two reasons are;

#1 the salesperson did not listen

#2 they did not understand my problem

Keep in mind, as consumers, we Love to buy…we hate being sold!

I truly hope your motivation was to reach more people and provide a positive venue to address real questions. I was not able to participate but I hope to hear from those that do. However, if you are trying to control the voices of your marketplace, stop, and have someone on your staff buy you a copy of a book titled: World Wide Rave.

How about your business…

Are you asking and not listening?

Are you trying to validate and support your beliefs or are you authentically listening and connecting to unmet needs?

Are you “selling and telling” or listening and solving?

Did you attend the teleconference? How did it make you “feel”?

You see, at the end of the day how markets “feel” about you, your company, your Brand, and if you and your team authentically Listens, Understands, and solves my problems affect their purchase decisions. Each purchase is a vote of confidence.

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