I’m a hunter gatherer. I interview business owners about why they do what they do, finding angles from their story that show why they’re special in the eyes of their clients.
I have a secret rule.
When I’m interviewing clients, I challenge myself to make them stop talking.
It sounds weird and it’s not a conscious thing. I just want there to be a point in our conversation where they look at me and say, “I need to think about that” or, “Good question!”
Then they stop.
It might only be for a few seconds, but it’s enough to tell me that we have tracked down a new angle to their story. It’s what I hunt for.
(I’ve been re-watching The Hunger Games with my daughter. So perhaps that’s why I have come over all Katniss Everdeen. If you’ve not met this lady, she’s good at stalking deer and handy with a bow and arrow. That’s what I do, in a way. Stalk stories that come out of hiding – without the weapons, of course.)
Your pause speaks volumes.
I’m not trying to catch you out, by making you grind to a halt. The halt itself tells me something. Think back to when you have had a conversation with a colleague, and you have stopped short. It’s probably because they have said something that either:
- challenges your view and makes you reconsider something or
- gives you a new idea and another option
You have to pause to let the cogs in your brain whir round for a bit.
The same thing happens when I talk to you about how you came to set up your business, why you find it rewarding and where you want to take it. You know your business back to front, because you’ve worked on it for ages. But if I am guiding our conversation properly, there will be moments when you pause. In that moment you might get:
- a new insight on where your niche is in the market place
- a realisation that the thing clients value most about you is the thing you’ve taken for granted
- a clear idea on which bits of your expertise you should highlight for which bits of your target audiences – your suppliers, clients or staff
Sometimes it’s about emphasis, giving one of your qualities star billing rather than a walk-on part. At other times, it’s turning your assumptions on their head. Either way, these moments are highly productive – even though not a single word has been uttered.
If you are now wondering how an interview – pauses and all – can help the bottom line of your business, drop me an email. You can also find out what a leading business mentor thinks of the interview process here.
Featured image by Vervate.