I am often asked, “How did you learn so much about so many different kinds of businesses?” The truth is, I didn’t but what I did learn to do was to ask questions to get people talking then listen to what they say. Most of you would be surprised to know that I am a massive introvert. As a young lad, I hated to talk on the telephone, because I had nothing to say. I used to have to script out my calls with pre-defined questions before I could get up enough nerve to even call a girl on the phone. Heaven forbid should there be one moment of dead time. I was ready with the next question before I even got a response from my first one.
Over the years as I matured and realized much of what I had learned in school, had no direct correlation to what I was trying to do to put food on the table and keep shelter overhead. I realized that if I was going to be any kind of success, I had to figure out a way to learn things quickly. There is no better way than to ask people who are already experts at doing what they do. And I found that when you ask the right kind of questions and you listen to what they have to say people are very much interested in telling you all about what they do and how they do it and what works and doesn’t work. They will tell you what they did wrong and what they wish they could do over again. Basically people love to talk about things they know about.
I learned to listen and ask more questions until I understood, not the nitty gritty details; but the overarching strategy of what they did and how they did it. Years later I picked up a book by Michael Chandler called Dreamweaving The Secret to Overwhelming Your Business Competition. And for the first time, I understood why what I did and assumed everyone did was really kind of unique. You see most people are really more interested in talking than listening.
You can verify this any day of the week, simply by talking a call from a salesperson. They want to talk about them, their company, their features and benefits, but they do not want to talk to you about you, your issues, your problems or your concerns. They are already convinced that you need what they are selling and rarely, if ever, even find out if you have a problem that needs resolving. Two of the most powerful words in the dictionary are YOU and YOUR.
We know that people buy from people. We have all learned that people buy emotionally and justify rationally – though few of us actually believe it to be true. But if I reminded you that the key to any relationship is an emotional bond between the two parties, I would find few who would disagree.
The first rule of sales is to listen, then understand, then tell. But that is not what the sales people we deal with day in and day out do. They tell, then tell some more, then more, until they hope that they can beat you down.
From time to time, I am invited to be on a sales call with one of our client’s customers discussing their needs. They are almost always surprised at how well the call goes. Our client’s ask us to be on the call so we can add that technical knowledge that they lack, and with rare exception we do not even discuss technology. What we do is to get the customer to start talking. I am not trying to build rapport by talking about how his day is going, or how we both have skied at Whistler, or how big his trophy buck was on his last hunting trip. I build rapport by getting them to tell me their problems, what kind of solution they are looking for, when they want it and why it is important to them. These pieces of conversation can then be fed back to them so that they know I was listening. I am not trying to parrot what they said. I am using the information I gather to get more details and build trust that finally, someone understands their problems. We may or may not be able to solve all of them for the moment, but at least they know that we understand and from understanding we can seek a resolution.
Before continuing, I am going to step back a bit and provide some generic definitions of terms. These are the terms that scare the dickens out of our customers, our dealers, and their customers. These three terms are: 1) Advertising, 2) Public Relations, and 3) Marketing. Without getting too technical, Marketing encompasses Advertising and Public Relations to an extent. Advertising is the tactical execution of the strategic plan. Together these comprise Marketing. Marketing is everything you do, everything you say. Advertising is your public execution of the strategic plan. Public relations is the spin you put on everything you say. A more formal definition of each of these from Webster says that Advertising announces or praises a product or service in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it; public relations are the actions of an entity in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, and customers; and marketing consists of all the activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, which includes, advertising, shipping, storing and selling.
As we move from single service provider to marketing service providers, offering a number of services all under one umbrella to assist our customers in reaching their dreams, we are not really providing public relations, advertising or marketing. What we really are doing is DREAMWEAVING. Or at least that is what we should be doing as it is the only thing that our customers really want from us.
What is DREAMWEAVNG, you ask? “Dreamweaving is the science of building emotional bridges which results in “two” becoming “one”, according to Michael Chandler. A slightly more simplistic definition is required to understand what Dreamweaving really is. Dreamweaving is the ability to help your customer realize his or her dream. What business products and services can you bring to your customer’s table that will help them realize their dreams? That’s it. So simple anyone can do it.
Become a Dreamweaver and your success is guaranteed. Your customers are desperate for you to find them. They are searching for you. They are willing to pay more for you because they realize that you care more about them than you do about yourself. Change your perspective and become a dreamweaver. Let it be known that you and your business exist for one reason and one reason alone: to make the customer’s dream come true. Because really that is all they want. And if you want to really be a dreamweaver and enjoy the fruits of your labor that is all you want too.