Who else should you be listening to?

I hope you’ve had a great start to the new ‘term’. My boys spent most of the summer holidays fighting so I was glad to hang up my referee’s whistle and send them back to school.

As you may have seen from my content on LinkedIn, I’m taking my listening expertise and applying it not just to clients but to other business stakeholders too.

So, this month, I’ll be focusing on who else you should be listening to, and why.


If you’ve been connected to me for a while, you’ll know why it’s important to be a good supplier to your clients. But are you a good customer yourself?

If your business relies on a supply chain to deliver its goods or services to clients, or to operate as a business, you need to know how your suppliers are feeling. In some sectors, it’s a supplier’s market, and people can be choosy about who they work with. It’s also a small world so, if you treat your suppliers badly, just like clients, they might tell others and you could find yourself with a reputation for being difficult to deal with.

How strong is your relationship with your suppliers? Are your procurement processes so complex (Hello public sector!) that people are put off working with you? Do you pay on time and within reasonable timescales?

I’ll talk more on this, and in greater detail, over the coming months but here’s a great article by Ben Berry at HKA, originally published in the CIPS magazine, which talks about the importance of strong supplier relationships and makes the point of suggesting you seek feedback from your suppliers!

Your Team

Whether your team is made up of direct employees or associates, it’s important to know how they’re feeling. Most large organisations already run staff sentiment surveys but if you’re a smaller organisation or you rely on a network of contractors to deliver your services, how can you find out how people are feeling?

This is where an independent qualitative listening exercise comes in. It can help you determine the issues your team are facing, how they feel about your business and provide a safe forum for them to share their thoughts and ideas for what could be improved.

In an environment in which attracting and retaining talent is as competitive as attracting and retaining clients, you need to know how your teams are feeling and ensure you address any issues promptly. One of my clients has recently engaged me to talk to their team and it’s proving to be a fascinating and valuable exercise.


Referrers are crucial stakeholders within your business but can sometimes be overlooked. Referrals offer free marketing – there is no cost of sale, so it’s important to always be developing relationships with those who can send business your way.

In the Professional Services sector, there is often a huge amount of resource, quite rightly, put into building and nurturing referrer relationships. So why not include them in a listening programme?

Wouldn’t it be great to know why they refer people to you (over recommending others)? What’s their view on the level of reciprocity – does the relationship work both ways or is it skewed? Do they understand all the services you offer? What improvements would they suggest?

All the valuable insights you glean will not only help you to build on and develop your existing relationships, but also win more new business.

So, as we move into the new season – listening to clients will continue being an important part of my business but I’m excited to be extending my mission of helping organisations build stronger business relationships with other stakeholders too.

If listening is on your radar for the future, I’d love you hear from you.

And finally, an ask. You may have seen that my eldest son George, who is eight, is taking part in a 33km bike ride across Dartmoor in aid of St Luke’s Hospice, a charity local to us. If any of you can spare a little something to support his efforts, we would be very grateful – visit George’s JustGiving page here.

Until next time!

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