“Sometimes one can create a favorable impression by saying something but often the more favorable impression is created in how they say it.” ~ Dalai Lama
In many ways, whenever you deal with customers, it is like going on a first date – what you say is not nearly as important as how you say it. To illustrate this point, let’s look at two different first date conversations that each says basically the same things but in much different ways.
Tom is on a first date with a woman he has never met. They arranged to meet at a restaurant for lunch. Upon meeting and being seated, the conversation goes like this – Tom tells her, “I make lots of money, am a big shot where I work and drive a very expensive car. I’m really an important person.” Tom probably isn’t going to get a second date with this girl, and if he does, then she is probably after the wrong things. He is focused on giving his date the WHAT of who he is, but the WHAT of a person, or a business, is not what draws people in, it is the WHY that wins people and customers.
Now contrast that with this conversation – After Tom spends several minutes listening to her introduction and asking questions, the time is finally right for Tom to tell a little about himself. “I’ve been very blessed in life. Because I had great parents who pushed me to do well in school, I’ve been able to work my way up to a very lucrative and fulfilling position where I work, which has allowed me to live a very comfortable lifestyle, but best of all, in my position I have the opportunity to help other people be successful and this makes my life very rewarding.” You can see where this conversation would greatly enhance Tom’s chances at a second date. Here Tom is expressing the WHY of who he is.
To translate this to the business world and interacting with customers, Tom is talking about features and allowing his date to tie those features to her benefits. In business it’s easy to have conversation #1 with customers when it comes to features. “We have a state of the art surveillance system. We offer insurance. We sell moving supplies. You can pay your bill online.” Basically all you are doing is naming off features hoping something you say catches your customer’s interest and that they will connect your features with their benefits. Here you are only telling the customer WHAT you do.
Now let’s look at saying the exact same things but in a much better delivery. “To help protect you and your family as well as your precious belongings, we have a state of the art surveillance system that records all activity on the property 24/7. For your protection and peace of mind we offer affordable insurance that has zero deductible and protects your home owners’ insurance premiums from ever being increased. For your convenience we offer a full line of packing and moving supplies all right here in one location. We want to make it easy for you to make no hassle payments so we’ve made it easy for you to pay online, set up an auto payment or we will be happy to take your payment over the phone. Whichever is most convenient for you, and yes, of course, we even accept cash or checks.” Now you are informing your customer of WHY you do WHAT you do.
With the second conversation, you greatly increase the chance of turning this first date with the customer into a long term relationship. People are people and the biology of decision making is the same no matter whether it is a personal decision or a business decision. It’s obvious that in the dating scenario it was a bad date, so why would we expect it to be any different in the business scenario?
Like on a date, it is extremely difficult to build a trusting relationship with a potential customer or client by trying to convince them of all the rational features and benefits. These things are important, but they serve only to give credibility to a sales pitch and allow buyers to rationalize their purchase decision. As with all decisions people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it and WHAT you do serves as the tangible proof of WHY you do it. But unless you begin with WHY, all people have to go on are the rational benefits. And chances are, you won’t be going on a second date.