“I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” ~ Meryl Streep
The ability to understand what buyers really want is critical to targeting your message and connecting, yet most of us never get past the facts and figures. Since most buying decisions are based on emotions and justified by logic, this simply doesn’t go far enough to truly understand what’s driving today’s decision-makers. The ability to identify with our buyer’s feelings, thoughts, or attitudes can give us a clear understanding of their situation that goes beyond the surface level, allowing you to establish meaningful rapport, ask the right questions and address real concerns and goals. So how do you quickly understand people who may appear to be quite different from yourself?
Why not turn to actors who are asked to bring a full understanding to characters that are often quite unlike themselves. How did Daniel Day Lewis portray Abraham Lincoln with such amazing clarity? How did Meryl Streep play Margaret Thatcher with such depth and authenticity? Neither star has experience ruling a country, a city or a company, and yet they seemed to understand these very real people with remarkable insight and accuracy. What’s their secret?
The “Magic If”
This famous acting technique allows actors to relate to the often very different lives of their characters by asking the question: What if everything around me were true? How would I feel? How would I behave? Most of us remember playing this game as children: What if I could fly? What if I were a president? Now I invite you to rediscover it by using your imagination to step into the shoes of your customer for better understanding and rapport. Exploring the answers to the question “What if?” helps us to develop authentic empathy and discover how we— and in turn our customer or client—might think, feel, and act as they consider making a buyer decision.
4 Steps to Understanding Your Buyer :
- Define Your Buyer’s Circumstances.
Arm yourself with as much information about your customer’s circumstances as possible. You’ve been doing this already, however I encourage you to search deeper. Think like a detective. What seems to be important to them? What comes up consistently in their social media efforts and what do others say about them?
- Identify the Feelings
It’s unlikely that you will share the same circumstances as your customer, however it IS likely that you will have experienced some of the FEELINGS they have. Look for “feeling” statements in their bio or social media communications. What do they like? What do they dislike? If you can get even a small sense of what the other person is feeling or experiencing, you are one step closer to understanding your customer on a deeper level.
- Apply the “Magic IF”
Take a moment to ask yourself hypothetical questions that would put you in your customer’s shoes: “What IF I were new in my position and responsible for evaluating vendors for a key project? What IF I were at a company hit hard by the recession and new competition? How might I act? What might I want to hear from a salesperson?
- Ask Targeted Questions
Now, based on what you’ve discovered through “The Magic If,” you are better prepared to ask questions that express empathy and address your customer’s needs like, “What does the increased competition mean for you and how can I help?” or “Could I show you how you can maximize your budget and save time with a couple of small changes to your existing plan?”
Ultimately, the more we feel, as opposed to know, what it’s like to walk in our customer’s shoes, the more likely we are to establish authentic rapport, the more on target our questions and solutions will be, and the easier the subsequent steps in the Sales Process will be.