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Welcome to the third video in our 8-part series about how to craft the perfect buying process for your clients. What we’re going to learn now is how to Listen and Learn so that you can give the spotlight to your client. This is a key part of creating a great buying process, instead of starting with yourself.
First, let’s start with the research. Diana Tamir at UC Santa Barbara has done my favorite research on the value of listening and learning. Here’s what it looks like:
The first thing Diana and her team did was look at hundreds of thousands of social media posts, which allowed them to get a reasonably complete picture of all social media usage.
When conducting their analysis, they found that over 80% of social media posts are all about the person who wrote them.
One example could be: “Look, I’m having a cheeseburger. It’s got extra cheese on it. Isn’t it great?”
About 80% of social media posts were all about the person who posted them. The basic, overarching message from the posts is ‘look at me’.
The second thing Diana and her team did (which I think is even more interesting) was testing blood oxygenation levels of the brain using functional MRI machines while people talked about themselves.
They found that the pleasure center of the brain is what lights up when we’re talking about ourselves, specifically when we’re talking about our own experiences or our own predictions about future experiences that we or other people might have. It’s important to note that we receive a positive stimulus when we express our opinions about other people as well as ourselves. As the research highlights, this is the same pleasure center that lights up when we have great food or we have sex.
The pleasure center of the brain is incredibly powerful. It affects our opinions about things and drives our motivations. When we ask clients questions about where they’ve been and where they want to go, we are giving them the spotlight. When we avoid hogging center-stage by talking about ourselves, we let the clients be the stars of the show.
There are two other powerful reasons I want to hit on regarding why you should ask great questions to get your client talking.
Great questions show credibility. When you’re asking deep, second- and third-level questions, you’re showing your knowledge of this particular organization and their industry. Moreover, you can organically demonstrate the effort that you’ve invested in them by preparing for this meeting.
You will also be able to position your own services very specifically if you know what the client thinks about their current situation. It’s especially powerful when you can use their wording to discuss the specific issues that they’ve brought up.
When you start with yourself, on the other hand, you’re going to use generic wording around general issues that you’ve seen in other places, which isn’t very powerful for the client.
In summary, there are three major benefits to Listening and Learning:
- You’re going to give the spotlight to them, which they’re going to love.
- You’re going to be able to show your credibility.
- You’re going to be able to uniquely position how you can solve their issues.
The next idea we want to hit on is: How do you craft a great question?
There are two major components: the framing and the question itself. When framing, you have the opportunity to talk about what you know of the given situation.
For example, you could say:
“Given the research we’ve done in this area, what do you think should be the next step in your organization? In our experience, we worked with another client that had these things go on and they found X, Y, and Z were the most important part of their implementation. What do you think are the most important parts of your implementation?”
The frame lets you talk about your experience in a much better way than the self-centered example we saw with Mr. Joe Salesman in Segment 2.
It allows you to seed a little bit of curiosity while talking about the work you can do. Most importantly, a well-constructed frame allows you to do this without stealing the spotlight.
Additionally, your question should engage their personal opinion about what they think needs to happen next to move beyond the current state.
If the endpoint is more generic, your question will not engage that pleasure center of the brain. You need to ask questions that get into what they personally think got them to the current situation or where they need to go. Starting with the client is critical, since without deeply understanding their issues you’ll never be able to ask specific questions to elicit this pleasure response.
Finally, you need to start to subtly shine the light back on how you can solve their issues and the ways in which you can be helpful, whether it involves your services or not. You just want to provide the best solution for the client. The bridge between the client talking about what they’re doing and should do, and you discussing how you might be helpful is curiosity. If you’re creating curiosity, you’re naturally able to shift from the client to how you might be able to be helpful to them.
In our next segment, we’re going focus more on creating curiosity. We’ll talk about the science of curiosity and why it’s a great motivator. We’ll also cover why it helps clients recall what you’ve talked about even more.