How Much Do You REALLY Know About Your Prospects?

I recently read an article in the April 2016 Event Marketer Magazine concerning Neuromarketing.  Neuromarketing is the study of consumers’ cognitive and sensory responses to marketing stimuli.  I am currently developing a longer article about how event marketers can apply neuromarketing strategies to live events, but, in this blog, I will be focusing on one single sentence in that article that I mentally completed … incorrectly … and what it indicated about marketers’ collective habits.

Allow me to share the section, and then complete the final sentence in your mind.  The section read:

“The first step in diagnosing the [customer’s] pain requires two skills. The first skill is asking the right question …  and then you need to listen closely to the customer so that you can come up with the best possible … [finish this sentence]

Go ahead … complete that sentence in your mind.  I’ll wait.  And no reading ahead.  Actually do this so you can experience what I did.

Have you done it?


Did your answer refer to anything along the lines of “… best possible answer …” or “… best possible solution to their challenges …” or “ … best possible person to talk to …”?

That’s where my mind went.  These are all results-based answers. The actual sentence reads:

“The first skill is asking the right question …  and then you need to listen closely to the customer so that you can come up with the best possible next question. [emphasis mine]”

This was a clear case of me not following my own advice.  Of course, in real-life client/prospect interactions, I ask dozens of questions before ever focusing on a solution to suggest.  At least I like to think I do.  But when I read that sentence in the article, my mind jumped ahead and completed it in a way many of us most likely would.  This is a stark reminder of the knee-jerk responses many of us display when interacting with customers or prospects. We are so excited (and rightfully so) to educate them about our wonderful solutions that we jump the gun and deliver the sales pitch before we complete the discovery process.  This is true for new and existing customers.

An article from a past Forbes Magazine entitled “Are You Asking the Right Question?” also explored this issue.  It told the story of how the cellular phone was first conceived NOT through a creative inspiration, but through the asking of a specific, well-focused question.  This article included a quote from Einstein:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

The point of this blog post is simple: ask more questions, ask more SPECIFIC questions, and do not be afraid to ask HARD or PROVOCATIVE questions before getting to your solutions.  And when you think you’ve asked enough questions … ask another one. This is especially true at tradeshows & events when interaction time with an attendee is limited.

There are many ways to incorporate robust questioning into your pre-, at-, and post-event engagement efforts, but the bottom line is: if you take the time to ask the right questions, and implement a powerful engagement process through which these questions can be asked succinctly … and then accurately recorded … you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to position your products/services as SPECIFIC and RELEVANT solutions to your target’s pain.

You’ll also be amazed at how “asking questions” will increase your sales and customer advocacy.

Any questions?