Sometimes, it’s the little things advisors do that can take them to the next level of success. William J. McLaughlin of Wall, N.J.-based The McLaughlin Financial Group LLC told me that little bit of wisdom in a phone conversation last week.

For McLaughlin, that “little thing” is listening to what his clients have to say. In fact, McLaughlin recognizes “the lost art of listening” as one of the central pieces to his success.

He tells me he sees his role as an advisor as having similarities to a priest, where the clients come to him in the form of a confession. They pour themselves out to him, he says, and McLaughlin listens.

“I hear what they say. It’s important to hear what they say and to get to know what makes them tick. I wish there was a silver bullet. That would be easy, but it’s not like that. The key is to have integrity, to be transparent.”

Senior Market Advisor columnist John Boe writes that an ancient Chinese proverb reminds us “to listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well.”

Do you consider yourself a good listener? Are you hearing what your clients are saying, what they’re asking of you?

Boe concludes his column on listening by writing: “Where communication is poor, mistakes increase, relationships breakdown and opportunities to make the sale are missed. If you want to enhance your professional image, strengthen relationships and dramatically improve your sales effectiveness, I encourage you to listen while you work.”