I was inspired by Ford Harding’s post today on cross-selling, most of all by his suggestion of how to educate others in the company about one’s own services, including this idea:
Structure the session as an interview, rather than a presentation. Announce to the participants that they won’t learn anything about the featured practice, unless they ask about it. Then, don’t allow the person seeking to cross sell his service to say anything, except in response to his colleagues questions. If his colleagues aren’t interested or intelligent enough to ask good questions about the service, he is probably wasting his time anyway. This puts the responsibility on the listeners to extract the information they need, keeping them engaged in the conversation.
When I read this, I thought, “Eureka!” Like many, I would like to be a better listener than I am. I was on a call last week and caught myself preparing my next statement instead of listening to what my colleague was saying.
The idea of interviewing struck a chord because of some work I’ve done – twenty or so podcasts and a similar number of in-depth customer interviews. For those, I prepare questions in advance, and listen very carefully while the interview subject is speaking. Frequently, the answers inspire a different line of questioning or a surprising new direction. If I weren’t listening, I wouldn’t detect the change nor be able to adjust my questioning.
When an interview is done, I feel as if I’ve been immersed in the topic, more than engaging in a conversation. Moreover, I have the recording as a keepsake, to refer to again if I want to relive the interview. [My friend Laurie records conference calls and meetings - with prior approval - as a matter of course, so she can relisten later to pick up things she's missed. Another interesting idea.]
I learn far more from an interview than a standard call or presentation. I think Ford is onto something important here; interviewing as a way of learning. What do you think?
(Photo by Mulad via Flickr Creative Commons)