My wife and I ventured to the Tanglewood Music Festival for a Saturday evening performance. That Saturday was a beautiful day in Massachusetts – warm, low humidity, light breeze, only a few puffy clouds. Perfect. So, on our way to Lenox, Massachusetts and Tanglewood, we stopped in a nearby town for a walk around and a lemonade on the porch of the local “grande hotel.”
We sat in old-style glossy white wicker chairs, ordered our beverages, and sat, quietly sipping our drinks, watching people pass by and sunbeams change as the afternoon deepened.
After we’d sat for a bit, our server lurched by and croaked, “Do you guys want anything else?”
Spell broken, I thought. “He SO missed his opportunity.”
As in something like, “You have looked so comfortable in your chairs on this beautiful afternoon, may I bring you a bit more lemonade to keep it going?” – a phrasing that would build on our momentum, encouraging us to continue enjoying ourselves rather than seeking only to facilitate drink transactions.
How could this work in more day-to-day setting?
Let’s say we were speaking with the president of a company whose business model would be affected by new industrial wastewater regulations. Let’s say we were selling wastewater treatment equipment or equipment financing.
We could ask, “So, what equipment will you need to comply with the new regulations?” Or, “How are you planning to finance the equipment you’ll need?” This is like asking, “Do you guys want anything else?” Not much momentum there.
Or, we could ask a question like: “We’ve noticed that you’ve had good success over the past few years, adapting to evolving environmental regulations. [That’s the momentum part.] As you think about the emerging wastewater regulations and their impact on your business, what responses seem the most attractive?”
Our server at the grande hotel received a tiny tip and two empty chairs for his efforts. Pity. The afternoon was still young, and we were still thirsty.
Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to sell services to business clients through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site
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