Go with the flow

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter

A conversation is a very fragile thing. It can get off track very quickly.

Think of all of the things that can derail a conversation. One person starts talking too much. One or both people stop listening to what the other person is saying. They disagree. They are actually having two different conversations, like an arguing couple, where she thinks they are discussing that he never remembers to take out the garbage and he thinks they are talking about her general impatience with him.

A customer conversation is especially fragile. One moment it is cruising along, and the next moment it can stall. The quality of your persuasive conversation depends on how well you and your customer are moving in sync, like two dancers waltzing in a synchronized flow of mutual affirmation and agreement. During every moment you are in a customer conversation, you must be alert to the health of that conversation and constantly nurture the dialogue in order to propel it forward.

One reason that customer conversations are especially fragile is that customers often don’t feel that it is vital to them that they are in this conversation with you. The customer may be only somewhat interested in what you are offering, or she may believe that she has many buying options other than yours. Keeping a customer engaged in conversation is often more difficult than keeping a friend engaged, so you must work diligently to create a rich back-and-forth dialogue that builds and engages you both deeper into the conversation.

Go with the flow

A general principle in customer conversations is to Go with the flow. Yes, you have a desired destination for this conversation, but a sure way to stop a conversation in its tracks is to force your customer to take your preferred route to the destination. You are much more likely to reach your persuasive goals if you find your customer’s desired conversation path, and walk down that path with your customer. Once your customer is deeply engaged in the conversation it can naturally flow from this path to another that is desirable for both of you.

Salespeople often try to predetermine the best place to start a conversation, but what they decide ahead of time may not be the best place for the customer to start. Be willing to start your customer conversations “in the middle,” i.e., wherever your customer wants to start them.

This isn’t so odd. Most of the conversations you have in your personal life start in the middle. You run into a friend on the street and you start talking and catching up with each other, not necessarily proceeding in a strict chronological or logical order. Your friend tells you things aren’t going very well in his job, telling you about a clash he had with his boss earlier today, and only later filling you in on the root causes of the clash that had been brewing for months. It would seem totally unnatural if he insisted on starting at the very beginning, imparting a step-by-step version of events to you.

The “Conversation-o-meter”

Maintaining a rich persuasive conversation with a customer requires you to continuously monitor how well the conversation is going. As I’ve written in a previous article, I like to think of a “Conversation-o-meter,” represented by a set of mental images of dials and meters that tell me how well a conversation is going. Am I talking too much? Is the other person talking too much? How well are we listening to each other? How fluid is the dialogue?

You may not need an image or metaphor as direct as my “Conversation-o-meter.” The most important thing is for you to find a way to stay alert, in real time, to the health of your customer conversations.

Ditch the Pitch Habits to help you Go with the flow

In our next two issues we will explore two Ditch the Pitch Habits, along with their related practices, to help you Go with the flow. These habits are:

Ditch the Pitch Habit #3: Create a series of “Yeses”
A conversation can only continue if both people want it to. This habit is about ensuring that you and your customer continually agree to move the conversation forward.

Ditch the Pitch Habit #4: Explore and heighten
As you and your customer are agreeing to keep your conversation moving forward, you will find opportunities to take the conversation to new levels. This habit is about exploring those opportunities and then enriching them as your heighten the dialogue and move closer to your persuasive goals.

You may already be engaging in these habits to a certain extent. Take this opportunity to practice them and improve your ability to ditch the pitch. You’ll be a more effective persuader, which will make you that much more effective in your work.

Steve Yastrow

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Conversation, Ditch the Pitch, Newsletters, Sales

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe to the Blog
Email:  

On Steve's Mind
Get Steve's newsletter featuring his ideas and practical advice delivered to your email inbox.
* = required field
Latest Tweets
Testimonials
Craig Dwight
Steve’s approach to integrating all customer contacts into a comprehensive marketing message is a must in today’s information age. We have partnered with Steve to develop our integrated and comprehensive marketing message, and as a result of his excellent work, his new book is required reading for all of our employees.

Craig Dwight

Chairman & CEO, Horizon Bancorp
Alex von Bidder
In these high pressure times of bite-size communications we all hunger to be listened to and cared for individually. Our customers know great hospitality, the kind that is not about selling but treating their needs as our highest priority. Steve Yastrow’s teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Alex von Bidder
Steve Yastrow's teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Ditch the Pitch is a great read-- interesting, fun, and easy to follow. And I’ve already seen the concepts work. Just yesterday, I called a client and had a conversation that was 95% about the client, as the book suggests. At the end of the call, he sent a new matter my way. I ditched the pitch and it resulted in new business.

Attorney

Chicago, IL
Mike Depatie
Steve Yastrow is at the forefront of the next evolution in marketing. We have implemented many of his innovative ideas... and have seen very positive results.

Mike Depatie

CEO, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Chris Tucker
Steve is a creative and collaborative speaker who communicates his ideas clearly and concisely. He immediately understood our business needs and provided a better perspective on how our customers see us as a company. I have referred Steve to our customers in the past and I will continue to do so. He’s intuitive and has a unique way of looking at business. Steve has the experience to turn a project into something extremely valuable for any organization. I strongly recommend working with Yastrow and Company.

Chris Tucker

Director of Business Development, MBX Systems
jim-winter
Steve put together a program that produced spectacular results, and the quality of our communication and customer satisfaction is vastly improved. I’ve been in business for 40 years, and Steve’s the first consultant that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from. We’re going to continue to work with Steve and the bright, energetic people that are on his team.

Jim Winter

COO, Dimension Design
Ward Alles
Steve Yastrow knows his stuff. That's why our management team has read all of his books. And that's why we've had him as a keynote speaker at both client and employee events. From creating brand alignment, to selling more effectively, to providing top-notch customer service, Steve offers words of wisdom based on real-life experiences. He always engages his audiences with questions, interactive exercises and great storytelling that keep you coming back for more. Read Steve's books. Then book Steve. You'll be glad you did.

Ward Alles

CEO, Core Creative
Jennifer Whelan
Our work with Yastrow and Company yielded the best long-term value of any consulting engagement we’ve ever had. As we grow and expand internationally, Acuative continues to depend on the branding approach and marketing tools Steve and his team developed. Yastrow and Company genuinely partnered with us, were exceptionally responsive and remain committed to our success.

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Jennifer Whelan
“Steve’s workshops helped bring out what is best at Acuative. His insights were fresh and long-lasting—we continue to use his tools and approach years later.”

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Kathleen Phillips
Not only is Steve's content sound, but the energy he displays in delivering it will knock your socks off.

Kathleen Phillips

Ernst & Young, Chicago, IL
american-licorice-logo
We have seen huge benefits from Steve's input. Steve is unlike any other consultant I've ever worked with. He takes a genuine, deep-seated interest in our business. He is intuitive and able to identify problem issues quickly. We wouldn't be as far along in acheiving of our long-term growth strategy if we hadn't actively and aggressively pursued Steve's Brand Harmony.

Michael MacDonald

Executive VP Sales and Marketing, American Licorice Co.
Marc Allen
We are absolutely better off after engaging Yastrow and Company. They helped us look at our business from our clients’ perspective, resulting in a cultural shift throughout our organization. These changes have made a big impact - we’ve gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing clients. The investment was well worth it.

Marc Allen

Vice President of Sales, AMD Industries
roma-maxwell
I give Steve two thumbs up—five thumbs up, if I had that many!

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Tom Peters
When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.

Tom Peters

Founder, Tom Peters Company
jim-evans
Yastrow and Company introduced Brand Harmony and their Be the Brand concept to our team at Jenny Craig.  I believe these new ideas contributed in helping us triple the company's revenue during my years as CEO.

Jim Evans

former President and CEO, Jenny Craig
Doug Ducey
In one morning, Steve re-energized the way we look at marketing. The only question we had at the end of the session was, ‘When can we get him back?'

Doug Ducey

CEO & Chairman, Cold Stone Creamery, Governor of Arizona
David Sank
I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that is intent on enhancing their customer experience. Prior to working with Steve, we were communicating various messages to customers. Steve and his team helped us achieve a cohesive brand message that we as a company live daily. Steve is an incredible listener and learned the nuances of our business rapidly. I can’t imagine anyone Yastrow and Company couldn’t help.

David Sank

President and CEO, Calico Cottage
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand, and our experience with them was empowering, fun and a great learning opportunity. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Chris Miller
I rarely book speakers more than once. But I’ve used Steve four times! Steve has our association’s interest at heart and works tirelessly to deliver customized programs. He always ranks highly with our affiliates because he is outcome-focused, fast-paced and highly engaging. Anyone looking for insight and understanding into marketing, branding and sales should book Steve!

Chris Miller

Executive Director, Professional Systems Network International
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line.

Roma Maxwell

Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Rhoda Olsen
Steve Yastrow has clearly described the emotional reality of customer relationships and their impact on profitable business growth.

Rhoda Olsen

President, Great Clips for Hair