I blogged recently about the magic of questions – about their hypnotic power to direct people’s attention in specific ways.
All quite interesting, my readers thought. But how, they asked, can this knowledge be applied, in real, practical terms?
One way is to use questions to take people into particular emotional states, by focussing their attention on things that make them feel good or bad. In other words, to manipulate people’s emotions.
Another approach is to use them to set a new context for further conversation.
Here’s an example. I was talking recently to someone involved in the sale of very high quality, but rather expensive, reading lights. Typically, potential customers will phone up, in response to a magazine ad they’ve seen, to ask the price.
One of the fundamental ways people think is by comparing one thing to another (this is another way of saying “people think in metaphor”).
As they make the call, the customer will be looking to compare these reading lights to other kinds of lights they are familiar with – such as the ones they’ve bought in the past, from a homeware shop.
So the price of these lights comes as a huge shock – they’re almost ten times as expensive as ordinary lamps!
But they are a lot cheaper than new prescription glasses.
So I’ve suggested that the people answering the phones ask a question to change the context, before they mention the price of the reading lights.
Something like: “Before I give you the details, may I ask: do you wear glasses? As part of a survey my company is doing, would you please tell me how much they cost?”
This attention shift offers the potential customer something different to compare the price of these lights with. And if it saves buying a pair of glasses – which it may well do – even an expensive reading lamp is a great bargain.
I’m waiting to hear the results on this. And meanwhile, how could you usefully apply these principles in your business?
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