marketing + sales: Ask, Don't Tell
Just a few years ago, globalization was in full swing, and the world seemed to be bursting with an infinite supply of business. All this bounty lulled us into taking our customers for granted—until the economy tanked and shattered the illusion of endless prosperity. Suddenly, the old-fashioned “trusted relationship” started to look good again.
In this post-Madoff era of unpredictability and suspicion, people are looking for deeper, more intimate and more engaged relationships—the kind that reduce risk. This is true of customers but also vendors, employees and other business partners. The days of getting in, making money and moving on to the next guy are over. When times are tough and the future is uncertain, people want to put down roots and partner with people they like and trust.
Bottom line: In today’s markets, the most valuable commodity is the ability to connect with others and rapidly build trust. And that begins by asking the right questions.
Asking questions and letting people come up with their own answers is far more effective than spouting facts or trying to talk someone into something. Telling creates resistance. Asking creates relationships.
Here are nine ways questions can transform professional and personal relationships:
1. Questions turn one-dimensional, arms-length business relationships into personal ones that endure for years. When a relationship is all-business and there is no real personal connection, it lacks heart and soul. And, therefore, you are a commodity—a replaceable source of expertise. A client—or your boss—can trade you out for a new model with no remorse or emotion. But when you’ve connected personally, the situation is transformed because clients stick with people they like. Bosses hold on to team members they feel passionately about. Your expertise and competence get you in the door, but it’s the personal connection that then builds deep loyalty.