This is a secret.
WHY this is a secret, I have no idea.
But here it is, the secret to having more meaningful conversations with…
- Direct reports
- Your boss
- Your significant other
…is to make it about THEM. That’s it. That’s the big reveal. I could end this post here and you would have learned something that you probably already intuitively knew but, if you’re like most influencers and would-be influencers, don’t put into practice.
Why is that?
That is also a pretty easy question to answer. As Sales people and Entrepreneurs we have a very specific outcome in mind for every contact with a prospect, client, or candidate that we can manage and because those contacts are so difficult to achieve we have a strong tendency to push our agenda at the cost of connection.
In other words, we put our needs ahead of those of our prospect, and they like it about as much as you might expect that they would.
My friend, Mark Cucinelli, talks about this concept as it relates to both corporate and agency recruiters in this excellent article on candidate experience HERE. In his article Mark talks about the impact putting your needs ahead of the prospect (in his case, a candidate) has on the sourcing and hiring process.
Short version: You first = Negative outcome
One of the most common questions I get when I’m coaching Sales people is, “Why do prospects shut me down so quickly? I can’t get my questions answered.”
When I ask the Sales Person or Entrepreneur to recount the conversation for me it is almost always the same. They led with what they needed from the person, they talked about themselves, then they let the prospect know what they would get out of the interaction.
That is 100% the wrong approach. It is EXACTLY backwards. When you do that you are not giving them a reason to listen. You are not creating a receptive listener.
A much stronger and more effective approach is to:
- Lead with what the candidate can hope to get out of the interaction.
- Ask questions that encourage the prospect to open up and show GENUINE interest in their replies.
- Frame your message around the wants and needs the prospect shares with you (this technique requires you to understand your product or service and your message (See this BLOG POST) well enough to be able to adapt to what the prospect shares with you.
Here are some examples of the right and wrong way to do this:
Wrong: I saw your resume online and I have a job that I think you would be a good fit for and MY client needs…
Right: I saw your resume online and YOUR experience at XYZ company looks really interesting and like it might be a strong match for an opportunity that I think YOU may find interesting. Can we take a few minutes to discuss that?
Wrong: I would like to meet with you so I can establish a relationship and better serve your account.
Right: Could we get together to explore your upcoming projects in more detail so I can be ready to provide you with the talent you will need when your projects require them?
These are just a few examples. I’m sure you could add many more of your own. Can you see the shift in focus when you read them? Read them again out loud. Can you hear it?
Read the “Wrong” examples again.
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of your prospects tuning you out and disengaging. In a world where connecting live with people is increasingly difficult (and costly!) how often can you AFFORD to hear that sound?
This week’s challenge:
Review your messaging, scripts, email templates, and call plans and compare them to what we looked at today. Are they focused on the prospect or are they focused on you? If they’re focused on you then take a minute and reframe them to focus on the prospect while ensuring that they still move your agenda forward.
If you need help with this exercise post your question in the comments below and let’s start a discussion! Between my experiences and those of the Influence Understood community I’m sure we can help.
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Thanks for dropping by!