Tactical Questioning

“Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

“Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

I must admit, I was a bit reluctant to accept the presidency of my Toastmasters club this year (July-June).  But I do love my club, and I also know that in the Brave New World, the more you give the more you get.

Sure enough, in our first Club Officers Training last night, I picked up some good tools for leading the club.  I also reinforced a fundamental and critically important sales/customer relations tool.

As my fellow officers and I settled in to our Officers Training, Kamran, our Area Governor, showed us a chart.  A single chart provoked a robust discussion.

The message was simple, thus powerful… not just for Toastmasters, but for salespeople and entrepreneurs in the Brave New World.  Here it is.

The biggest reason Toastmasters leave a club is because the people they deal with are indifferent to their needs.

Over two-thirds of the times that a member leaves Toastmasters, it’s because Club Officers don’t make the member feel… understood.

It’s a basic sales premise, as well.  Customers change vendors when they feel their original vendor doesn’t understand them.  And customers choose vendors when they feel… understood.

Being a preferred vendor is good.  But in the Brave New World, good is not good enough.

Just one day before, I was working with a team that sells highly technical products.  We agreed that their superior products help, but products alone are not good enough to keep customers.

To strengthen your competitive position, we concluded, you need to be seen as a “trusted advisor.”  And how do you earn trust?  By understanding your customer… at every interaction.

Only then can you develop solutions that make sense.

Only then can you recommend which solutions should take priority.

Only then will anybody client, co-worker, family member, friend… lover… anybody… begin to trust you… and “trust” is the biggest word in sales.

They say that things happen in threes.  And here comes the tri-fecta.

I was just having lunch with a friend, and we were getting deep in to a very personal topic.  (Men are actually capable of this sometimes.)

My friend asked, “Do you know what the greatest human need is?”

“Food?  Water?”  His look told me I wasn’t close.  “Air?”  (Pause.)  Not even close.

“Sex?”  At least this time I got a laugh.

“No, mate, I said human need.  A need that distinguishes us from other animals,” he clarified.

I didn’t venture a guess.

“To be understood!” he said.

Of course.

Poets write about it.  Philosophers talk about it.  Musicians sing about… being misunderstood, “Oh Lord…”

Now Toastmasters is speaking about it, too.

Whether you’re leading a club, building a relationship, making a sale, or keeping a client in the Brave New World… listening is a powerful tool.

Your recommendations will be taken more seriously if you first listen.  And very often, you won’t even have to recommend.  If you ask good questions and then listen, your clients will usually see the value of your service without you pushing it.  Simply help them find it.

Explore.  Listen.  Understand.

You will be more persuasive.  And, in turn, you will also be… understood.

Image courtesy of Toastmasters International.
Video link to YouTube