Have you ever wondered why, despite your exceptional service, customers keep going to the competition? What gives? And more importantly, how do you get them to stay and refer others?

Whether we’re talking about keeping talented employees or valuable clients, the answer is the same: Ask the right questions and then listen.

If you don’t stop long enough to hear what’s motivating them, how can you make a compelling case for why they should choose you?

Here’s a great example: I recently attended a networking function at an upscale steakhouse in Baltimore, Maryland. Afterwards, the manager approached me and asked how I liked my lunch.

“I only ate a small salad,” I responded. “But it was good.”

“Have you tried our steaks?” he asked, with a burst of enthusiasm. “They are the best in town.”

I had not, in fact, tried the steaks, because I didn’t have enough information on this restaurant’s meat quality. Due to an insatiable curiosity about how food products are grown (or raised), I have spent crazy amounts of time studying farming topics – including grass-fed, grain-finished, organic, locally-grown, etc.

In fairness, I don’t know that there’s a “right” way to eat, but I certainly want to adjust my diet to the best way, given what’s available. So I am choosey about the food I put into my body.

With this in mind, I asked the manager, “Do you serve meat from cows that have eaten grass their entire lives?”

“No, but we have the very best meat in Baltimore,” he said. “Do you have a couple minutes? I’d like to show you something.”