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  June 22, 2012
Questions and Answers...

 


A few weeks ago I was in attendance at one of my good friend’s daughter’s high school graduation party.

Rather than sitting around listening to parents gripe about college tuition, I decided to instead, join a conversation with several young adults in the other room. 

We talked a bit about their plans for the upcoming summer... where they were headed to in the fall... and what they hoped to achieve in their near future.

I listened to them as they discussed their recent achievements, their excitement about leaving home and going off to college, and perhaps a bit of arrogance when discussing how their lives will undoubtedly improve when they no longer had their parents and teachers around telling them what to do.

At eighteen, most kids think that they have all the answers to life.  Although they are very intelligent, there is still a great deal of learning that comes from life experiences and practical knowledge.

One young man boasted that he scored a 760 on the math portion of his SAT test.  He was planning to study mathematics at UCLA.

So I asked him, "Are you really good at adding numbers in your head?"

He replied, "Of course... I’m a numbers guy."

So I asked him if he wanted to take a little test to determine if indeed he was good at quickly adding numbers up in his head...

He agreed to take my challenge.

So I started out... you’re a bus driver...

When you leave the bus depot, there are no riders on the bus...

At the first stop you pick up five riders... at the next stop you drop off one rider and pick up four riders... at the next stop you drop off two riders and pick up three riders... at the next stop you pick up 5 riders and no one gets off...

With each stop the pace of my on/off numbers increases speed...

...at the next stop you add only one rider but three get off... at the next stop four riders get on and one gets off... at the next stop two riders get on and two riders get off... at the final stop four riders get off...

At that point I looked at the young man, "did you get all that?"...

He looked at me confidently and replied, "yep... I have the answer... it’s eleven"...

I then asked him, "What’s eleven?"

He replied, "That’s how many riders are still on the bus."

To which I countered, "that may be so... but that’s not the question... the question is... how many stops did the bus make?"

"um... seven", he looked at me guessing.

"No... the answer is eight", I corrected him.

"You tricked me" he retorted.

"Okay then... I have another question for you... what is the color of the bus driver’s hair and his eyes?"...

He said in a frustrated voice, "I don’t know... you never told me!".

"Oh yes I did but you didn’t listen", I replied, "the bus driver’s hair and eyes are both brown... remember... I said that you were the bus driver".

My experience with this young man reminds me of just how often I am confronted with sales people who immediately start to spout off product specs, prices, and/or delivery information before they even learn what I want or need.  They have all the right answers I suppose... but simply to the wrong questions.

I don’t want to be sold... rather I want someone to assist me to help make an informed buying decision.

If I am in the market to purchase an automobile and power and performance are my "hot buttons" and the salesperson who greets me on the lot starts to immediately tell me about the great mileage and resale value of the car that I’m interested in buying, then I’m  going to lose interest very quickly.

My friend, Jack Daly, the very best sales trainer that I have ever had the opportunity to hear, has the absolute best advice in order for a sales person to increase their effectiveness in front of a client or prospect... simply ask questions and listen!!

Yes... it’s sounds easy... but most salespeople rarely do this... they sit down in front of their customer or prospect and start rattling off about their company’s service, inventory levels, pricing, bells and whistles, features and benefits and why they should be doing business with you and your company ad nauseam...

It’s basically... "hi... how’s it going... good?... well enough about you... now let’s talk about me"...

Being a remarkable sales person isn’t about having all the right answers... it’s about asking a lot of questions... the right questions.  By doing so, you’ll uncover what it is that your customer really wants (in my example... a car that has power and performance).

Asking questions and listening isn’t only for salespeople... it’s equally good for improving any type of relationship, be it with a friend, a spouse, your children or parents, and/or colleagues and managers.

Asking a lot of quality questions and active listening helps to avoid communication gaps between people.

Many times I think I know the answer to a problem but later determine that I didn’t ask enough questions to accurately understand the full scope of the issue at hand. 

I often find myself delivering partial solutions to problems because I didn’t ask enough clarify questions to begin with.

The young man thought he knew the answer I was looking for... but that wasn’t the case... I was looking for a completely different answer... he might have avoided failure by simply asking me the objective of the mental exercise... before we started...

In a very famous study... people were asked to watch a video and count how many times the basketball was passed between a group of people... here is a link to the video...

Did you accurately count the total times the basketball was passed?...

I didn’t... in fact... I lost track completely... for reasons plainly obvious to some people and perhaps not so obvious to others...

However I did completely miss the second part of the experiment... I was more focused at that point on something else (I don’t want to give away the answer in case you want to do the experiment yourself)...

If you watch the above video a second time... there is no way to miss the obvious...

The key to successful communication (and potentially increased sales) is having the awareness to ask good questions and listening intently to the answers you receive...

...only then will you have an idea of what the other person really wants.

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse... where we hope to be aware of how to fulfill your needs...


Jim Kalb
President
jimk@optifuse.com
www.optifuse.com

www.optifuse.blogspot.com (blog archive)


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