RESET: Owning the WhyJune 16, 2014 | By Wayne O'Neill
In this video, Wayne O’Neill talks about the difference between “what” dialogue and “why” dialogue with a potential client, and how strategically weaving “why” questions into your conversations with clients can help you uncover the value and impact behind the implementation of your product or service. Understanding that is key in building a long-term authentic client connection.
Welcome back to another one of our videos in the series of Reset to Connect.
What I want to talk about today is the importance of “why” versus “what” dialogue. Why, in quotations, versus what, in quotations, dialogue. And why that’s so important in your process of connecting more effectively to your clients. Let’s talk about this a little bit from what’s the difference.
It’s not that what type dialogue, which is time, scope, dollars, schedule, who’s going to be involved in the decision making, who are you competing against, those things are not wrong. Those things could be helpful. But they’re also really easy for you to talk about and for the client to talk about. They’re definitive, they’re very left brain.
I want you to consider weaving in why dialogue, which is a lot more strategic. It’s a lot more about the issues beyond the issues, but it’s harder. It’s harder to come up with those questions, and I’m going to talk a little bit later in this video of a caution that you might want to consider. But let me just get right to the point.
Let me give you an example of what why dialogue looks like. So let’s say you’re a software company, and you’ve got a really impactful piece of software, and you’ve got some services that are attached to those software, and you’ve got a meeting with the COO at either a higher educational institute or health care system. At any rate, this is not the technical person that you’re talking to, this is the person that owns the problem of leveraging you.
“Mr. Simpson, we really appreciate visiting with you, and as you can tell, we’ve done a lot of research about how you might be able to use our company’s software and the services that are attached. We’ve talked with a lot of other people that work within your system. We’ve really done a lot of homework, and we feel pretty confident that you can leverage us, not just hire us. But before we go any further, we would really like to understand why. Why do you even want software, why did you originally put out the RFP?”
“Because here’s what we’re really searching for. We want you kind of grasp, and behaviorally see us, as caring about the why part of an implementation. Will this software help you with the internal collaboration with your employees that you’ve talked about? Will it help you to connect with your stakeholders? Will it help you to connect with your customers? Those types of issues are important to us because we’re not just after a sale or an initial implementation. We really want a long-term account relationship with you, because that’s who we are as a company.”
Now let’s step back a little bit. First of all, let me caution you as you start down the journey of understanding why, or asking why questions, or using why dialogue. Let me just tell you, now let me jump on the other side of our practice. You would be shocked, certainly surprised, at how many C-suite type leaders don’t know the why. They sort of know the why. If you’re in higher education, you’re getting connected that all the dollars that students are pouring into education, they’re starting to question, is there a long term impact? If you’re in health care, you’re starting to see health care look very different over the next five years than it’s looked over the last 20 years, but it’s hard for them to talk about it. Worse yet, they sometimes know the why, but they don’t feel safe discussing it with you. It doesn’t matter. They need to catch you at asking why, because it’s a real important behavioral– listen to that word, behavioral— way for them to judge that you want to connect and have a longer-term relationship with them.
Let me leave you with this last punchline. In our experience over nine years of practice, 9 times out of 10, if you weave why language into the way that you connect with a client, you’re going to end up with an account. Not just a sale, not just a project. And that’s what our practice is about.
So thanks for listening, and be safe.