Zooming In, Zooming Out

A tip to improve the quality of your consultative conversations.

Have you ever known someone who's able to dramatically change the energy in a room? Someone who asks the right questions and makes insightful observations that stick with you long after the conversation is over?

This is what the ancient Romans would call gravitas. It’s the ability to go deep during a dialogue, add value to any topic, and encourage others to engage.

Sometimes it’s the ability to point out the obvious. That's the core idea of a Patrick Lencioni's book called “Getting Naked”. When engaging with clients, you should ask questions - even the obvious or simple ones everyone else is too afraid to ask.

There are many ways to do that. We tend to always ask the same things, and wonder why conversations don’t evolve. In my training and coaching programs, partners cultivate gravitas using a model that helps them draw unexpected connections and ask better questions.

There are many dimensions you can look at, but today I wanted to quickly write about zooming in and zooming out. The idea came after I came across this amazing ad:

During your consultative conversations, there's value in both exploring a high-level perspective and root causes.

Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Could you guess where the flag is just by looking at the right picture? Adopting a high-level perspective allows us to understand context:

  • How does your CEO see this fitting in with your overall strategy?
  • What are the most important performance metrics you need to hit?
  • How does this issue we're discussing impact them?

Only focusing on the big picture, however, leads us to miss critical details. To start exploring the root problem, you can get more granular about whatever issue you're discussing:

  • What do you think your customers would say about your post-sale support?
  • Are you investing the right amount of money on this issue to make it work?
  • What are the steps your employees really care about?

No two conversations are the same, and you can't rehearse them. But if you tend to be strategic and high-level in your conversations, don't forget to dive in and talk about specifics as well. And vice-versa.

This will improve the quality of your conversations, make them more engaging to prospects, and offer you much better information on whether you can help.

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