Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone where they make you feel as if you are the only person that exists? A conversation in which they are so focused on every word you speak that you wish the conversation would never end?

This is the depth of connection we all crave, especially in a world that where information is coming at us from all sides (more data has been created in the past 2 years than in the previous history of the entire human race) , and where Attention Deficit Disorder is at an all-time high.

  • Eye Contact. Tony's rule is that your eyes should be meeting your partner's eyes 80% of the time.
  • Presence. Presence extends beyond just a physical presence. It refers to being cognitively present. "The average person speaks between 135 and 160 words per minute, but the average person's brain works between 400 and 600 words per minute," shares Tony. Because your mind processes faster than the conversation, it's easy to drift away. Being cognitively present takes discipline and intention.
  • Nonverbal Feedback. Nonverbal communication is just as important as spoken communication. It conveys that we are engaged, interested, and understanding of what is being discussed.
  • Connection Through Body Positioning. How you sit with your conversation partner sends a message. Are your arms closed or open? Are your legs turned toward your partner, or away from them? Your body language creates a safe space for the person with whom you are communicating.

In addition to creating the right nonverbal atmosphere for engaging, productive conversations, it's important to ask the right questions to yield the right answers. This is especially important when building trust-based customer relationships.

According to customer communications expert Bob London, CEO of Chief Listening Officers, there are 3 buckets of questions that get to the heart of what customers really need.

What Does the World Look Like from Their Perspective?

  1. What are your top 2 - 3 priorities for the next board update?
  2. If you stop someone on your team in the hall and ask him or her, "What's the big mission you're working towards?" what would you want the answer to be?
  3. What's the one thing you wish you and your team was doing better right now?

Why ask them:
Don't ask about their pain points or what keeps them up at night; they've heard these questions before, so they'll typically give standard answers they've given before. And those won't be useful or insightful. Instead come at the issue from other angles. For what are they accountable to the Board of Directors? What are the 2 - 3 major initiatives on which their organization needs to be laser focused?

What Do They Think of Your Industry In General?

  1. Does my industry have a reputation--good or bad?
  2. What's your worst fear about investing in (product or service)?
  3. Name something vendors do that annoys you.
  4. If you happened to meet someone in our space, what's the first question you'd ask him or her?
  5. What are you not getting today that you wish you were getting?

Why ask them:
When your prospect gets a sales call from a rep in your industry or walks past a trade show booth, an immediate thought usually pops into their head. What is that thought? Is it positive? Negative? Skeptical? Exasperated? Glowing? Their answer is often the elephant in the room when you're pitching--and you need to know what your audience is thinking before you walk in the door.

How Are You Positioned in their Mind?

  1. What do we do better than anyone else?
  2. What would you lose if we went out of business?
  3. What's the business value of what we do?
  4. What would make you a customer for life?

Why ask them:
You need to know the perception of what your sweet spot is. That's your base of strength and the foundation on which you can build new initiatives or make important adjustments to your value proposition or positioning.

Every business aspires to create customers for life. This requires both the desire and knowledge to deeply connect in a way that makes your customer feel appreciated, valued, and understood. These strategies and questions will help you establish and maintain these special connections. Good luck!