No matter how you feel about America’s presence in war, our veterans deserve support, particularly as they return to their families and work life after deployment. This blog takes some of the guess work out of research for great support resources for veterans and their families, particularly the Colorado University Health Sciences Library’s resource guide: http://ow.ly/nrm5V maintained by Dana Abbey.
Small talk is an appetizer to any relationship. People like to do business with their friends. When you forget someone’s name, for example, be open and ask them graciously. This psychology of assuming the burden of someone else’s comfort is similar when you are on the telephone doing research or competitive intelligence. Make the other person feel you care, but also keep in mind that you might be catching them at a busy time.
I have been using elicitation techniques for many years, but not quite in the military intelligence way, which seems like using the other person in a more negative way. These techniques take advantage of human tendencies to complain, gossip, correct and inform, which certainly works. However, I like to capture the human desire to be happy.
Short, shallow, frequent bursts of communication via Twitter, Facebook or texting do not develop deep and emotional relationships, whether among friends, parent to child or between business colleagues. I fear that people are losing their ability to hold a conversation in our infected society of social networks, which favors many forms of digital connection with numerous people who are practically strangers, rather than really getting to know fewer people a whole lot better.
I recently gave a webinar on “How to improve your collection skills through interviewing and elicitation.” I particularly enjoyed the Q&A and will share my 2 favorites: What are some tips to get the interview in the first place? Reaching people live, referrals or customized email requests leading up to a phone call? How do you differentiate yourself from a telemarketer? Do you say what you’re doing?
Remember it’s not just what you say, but how you say it that makes you a successful interviewer.
A recent HBR blog post, “Just Call Someone Already,” focused on when to use the phone versus email, often used instead of the phone. I resonated with the author, Dan Pallota in his comment, “Much worse than the inefficiency of using email to set up phone calls are the missed opportunities and unnecessary misunderstandings that come when we use email instead of phone calls.” A best cooperative intelligence practice is to think about how the individual you want to reach likes to be communicated with, even if it’s not your preference. Another cooperative best practice is only send communication to those who will value it.
People often ask me how I engage people so readily in conversation over the telephone. “Who do you say you are? Why do you say you’re calling?” With all calls, you want to give the person a good reason to talk with you, and not waste their time with small talk and listen very closely to how and what they share with you. The bottom line is I consider who I am talking to and try to think of all the ways the person might answer my questions to be prepared for the unexpected. Calls seldom go just as planned. Don’t take yourself too seriously and keep that smile on your face.
The first step in primary collection regardless of whether it’s a standard interview, elicitation or some combination is preparation. Do not skimp on this upfront time. Often conversations and interviews don’t go as planned. If you have done your preparation, you can more easily be flexible. Lay aside your preconceived notions. Many of us listen for what we think is the ‘right’ answer or for what we want to hear. We don’t listen to the full story that the other person is telling us. Listen and put your ego aside if you want to be good in primary collection.
This is the first in a series about how I evolved in my career in competitive intelligence, and what I have learned over time. Overall I am glad I had a start back in 1985 for the critical thinking and deeper relationships I developed. I am glad to still be in this field today where I can reach out to sources quickly that I would never have dreamed even existed in 1985, thanks to social networking.
In a recent webinar I learned a few new things about the psychology behind conducting win/loss interviews. I have always told clients to makes sure that the sale is complete and implemented before handing them off to me to interview. Win/loss learning is often more about the failure of the selling process rather than selling the product. if you just have one time to conduct win/loss interviews, wait until after implementation or a rule of thumb is wait 2-3 months after the sale closes. If you wait too long, they’ll forget the details around the sales event that you are trying to collect and analyze.