The very idea of discovery has changed over the last decade. As discovery was trained and taught in the past, the outcome was to uncover the client’s pain or dissatisfaction. While that is still good and useful, it’s now equally—or in many cases, more important—to help the client discover something about themselves, their company, and their future. One of the ways to help them discover something about themselves is to share insights and ideas that make that discovery possible. Another way is to give them room to explore.
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote about the importance of listening in a chapter on communication. I described a process of learning to give people more space by waiting four beats before responding to some bit of information the person provides. Later, after I realized that the longer the pause, the more time the person has to reflect on what they’ve just said. By pausing the person has time to adjust, modify, and add context to what they’ve just heard themselves say out loud—maybe for the first time.
Leaving More Space to Explore
The more room you provide the person speaking without interruption, the more room they have to explore their thoughts. The more patient you are, the more confidence the person speaking will have that you are interested in what they have to say, and the more they will continue to talk. The more you provide space for your client to think through things for themselves, the more likely they are to discover something about themselves—especially as it pertains to what they think, feel, and believe they need to do.
Going Slow is How You Speed Up
One of the downside risks to leading with insights is that it’s easy to go from idea to implications to recommendations at a pace that exceeds your prospective client’s ability to follow. You know what the right answer is, you know what works, and you know where your dream client needs to go. But they don’t know where you are taking them, and they need more time to understand what you are sharing, what the implications may be for them, and what it might mean to their business.
When you leave room for your dream client to explore things for themselves, they have a chance to work through why they need to change for themselves, with you there to facilitate and serve them by helping them think things through. Not only will your client learn something about themselves, but you’ll also learn how best to help them produce better results.
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