“You can see that I’ve spoiled my children. They talk when they should listen.” – Don Corleone, The Godfather Part 1
Robert Collier, one of history’s greatest copywriters, said that in order to persuade you must ‘join the conversation in your prospect’s mind.’
In other words, you should listen first, then respond.
It’s also the third persuasion secret I’ve noticed from The Godfather’s Underworld Crime Lord, Don Corleone.
If you watch The Godfather, you’ll notice Corleone doesn’t have a huge number of lines. But when he does speak, it’s often a long monologue. It’s a response, having fully appraised the situation.
It seems simple. But this habit of speaking as a response is not easy. Most of the time – don’t you find? – we are thinking about our response while the other person is talking. It’s not actually a conversation. Instead, you just have 2 people firing statements at one another.
Neither person is able to persuade, because nobody is seeking to understand; to join the conversation in the other person’s head.
And it affects our personal lives too…
You’ll get a quick understanding of this if you’ve ever moved away from friends and family – perhaps to another country.
After I moved to Canada from the UK, I remember seeing a chart which frightened me. It worked out that – even though I’ll probably live 40-50 more years, and my parents will probably live 20-30 more years – I will only see my family for a total of 1 more year.
This hits home.
On Skype, when talking to mother-dearest, our conversations always start vibrant. I’m listening actively. Intently. Our screen looks like this:
But after a while, the conversation wears thin. I start to look like this:
By now I’m checking the call’s timer. Sometimes I breeze into my email while Mum’s yacking. Time is being robbed, because I’m not fully present in either activity.
You need to keep your listening muscles sharp
Listen without intent.
Listen without a goal.
From a sales perspective, this makes your contacts more genuine. And it makes your findings more valuable.
A few months ago, I wrote some copy for a new type of video-app designed specifically for Realtors.
I wanted to know more about these Realtors and how the app would function in their lives. Now, the WRONG way to go about this would be to start talking about the app. To jump into a forum, or something, and say: “Hey guys! I’ve got this really great widget that does X, Y and Z. I just want to know what you think. Would you buy it? Well? Wouldya? Wouldya?”
This sets you up for an onslaught of Troll-ery.
Everyone’s first instinct will be ‘no.’ It doesn’t matter how wonderful your idea may be.
So I approached these people like so:
There’s a few things I’ve done in this post to try and elicit a positive, valuable response:
- It is upfront and honest about my motives. But it doesn’t mention the product specifically – this is not a sales pitch of any kind.
- It is respectful of the potential customer. (“I don’t want to make any assumptions about you…”)
- It asks for their number 1 problem. Whenever you’re gathering customer information, this is the best question you can ask. Marketing, like business, is really nothing more than meeting problems with solutions…
…And your long, drawn out responses are usually from your hottest prospects – the people most likely to buy.
Every response I got from this post was positive. One person even left this massive, in-depth comment, giving all sorts of insights into his fears, hopes and struggles. He even invited me to chat outside of the group.
This is what active listening does for you. It’s difficult, because we live in a ‘Me’ centred universe. But if you’re willing to make it all about the other person, good things start happening.