Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Soap Opera Close Up

By John Trimble

You have all seen this, with or without sound, on every soap opera: a close up on a couple seemingly in love and embracing. The camera then zooms in on the woman’s face who secretly – her emotion shielded by the hug – shows distrust, unhappiness or even queasiness. It is a great device and is used so often simply due to its economy. A complete assessment of a relationship from one side is captured and revealed in two seconds.

How valuable would it be if that type of revelation, that same economy, that honesty (OK, forget it’s a cheesy soap opera and focus here) could be arrived at in the business world with clients? Or even a prospective client?  Understanding, in one quick reveal, how they really feel about your company when they were relieved of having to be fake friendly or politically correct? How they really feel about a current provider whom you are hoping to displace?

When one asks sterile questions like “Are you satisfied with our services to date?” before that last syllable even hits the air you can hear the auto response of “Yes, we are.” Of course in no way is that answer bankable, the answer is pre-determined by the poor phrasing of the question. Similarly, “Is there anything else we should be doing” brings forth the automatic,”No, we’re good.” Maybe that’s true but maybe not…or the common, “Are you happy with your current provider?” You can already hear the “Yes” because again it’s a programmed response.

Bad questions, bad language = bad information

Here is how IOS does it; we ask them if they are in love.  Seriously. We ask our clients if they are in love with IOS.  We ask “what would we have to do to lose you as a client?” We also ask prospects if they are currently in love with their current provider.

We use extravagant language – non business language on occasion because we have to know if we are fulfilling everything we promised in their eyes. We think we are – do they? Not knowing is negligence and like every advice column ever written for couples, quality communication is everything for a happy long term relationship.

Test it yourself: ask a prospect in any field if they are satisfied with their current vendor. You will undoubtedly hear “yes.” Then follow up with, “Are you in love with them?” Then the honesty begins – usually with “Well, I don’t know about that” or “I wouldn’t go that far.” You are now quite possibly in a real conversation.

So, we ask current and prospective clients if they are “in love” because the simple use of non –business speak encourages honesty and full, less careful responses. It avoids the automatic programmed response, responses that do not get anywhere near the truth.

No one can improve what they cannot touch and no one can fix what they allow themselves not to hear. Besides, everyone deserves to be in love.

Cue the closeup.

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