I’m not big on small talk.
I just don’t care to hear the list of places someone lived, job titles they held, or how this weather is so crazy because it might rain tomorrow.
The downside of this is there are plenty of parties or dinners where I end up not talking much.
The plus side is the conversations I do have tend to be more fun and interesting.
Pushing to have more meaningful conversations has come in very handy with case study interviews.
For example, there’s one little trick I learned that can not only help you have more fun, interesting conversations — but it’ll help you get real juicy stories from your case study interviews.
And that “little trick” is calling bullshit on the answers you hear.
Here’s an example:
A while back I was at a party with a bunch of people I didn’t know.
There was one woman, very pretty and about 10 years older than me, who I decided to go to talk to because why not.
We start to chat and the subject of travel comes up. I ask her what it is she likes about travel.
She gives me some generic answer about liking new experiences or whatever. Then she turns it on me and asks “What about you?”
Pretty normal conversation stuff, right?
But I stopped her right there.
I said, “No, you’re not getting off that easy. ”
Then I pushed her to go deeper.
I said something like: “There are a thousand things someone could like about travel — meeting new people, learning the history of a place, etc. What is it YOU like about travel?”
At this point, she lit up. She smiled big, her eyes got wide, and she gave me an answer I didn’t expect.
She talked all about how she loves to feel like she got the most out of the visit.
She told me how she’ll do a ton of research to find the absolute best things to do. So when she gets there she knows she’s making the best use of her time.
I asked for an example, and she talked about taking a helicopter tour. And how it scared the hell out of her fiance because the helicopter had no doors and he felt he was going to fall out.
It turned into the kind of conversation where you’re so immersed that everything around you fades away. We kept talking until her fiance came in and pulled her away. (He seemed none too pleased that she was spending this much time with some random dude.)
By encouraging her to go deeper, a couple of things happened:
- She came alive because she began to talk about things that mattered and not generic BS
- The content of the conversation was a lot more interesting and exciting
- I learned way more about who she was as a person
Now think about doing a case study or customer interview.
Won’t you get better quotes and soundbites if your customer comes alive? If they answer with their heart instead of their head?
Wouldn’t the story be more interesting to your audience if it was full of detail and examples instead of vague abstractions?
And wouldn’t your audience be able to connect with the person much better if you shared deeper insights into who that customer is — their fears, struggles, desires, etc?
The answer to all of those questions is “absolutely.” And a compelling story that connects with your audience is going to drive more sales.
This is why when I do case studies, I don’t just send out a list of questions for the customer to answer and email back.
And I don’t mindlessly rifle through a set of questions on a call.
I engage with the conversation. I feel out points that seem like they are juicy and ask them to “tell me more about that.”
Or if I feel they are glossing over something important I’ll bring the conversation back and ask them to explain it or give an example.
It’s all about realizing that every person’s experience is unique.
What this woman loves about travel is different than what other people love about it. That difference makes the story different. And for some people, her answer will resonate deep. They’ll hear that and think “OMG I’m the same way! I thought I was the only one!”
It’s the same with your customers. Drill down to the real story and you get something intriguing that stands out to your audience.
When your customer says they struggled before joining your course or that they were so excited at the results they got, don’t assume you know what that means.
What did that struggle look like? Why was it so painful? Why was it important to change?
And why were those results exciting? What did that excitement feel like? Was it joy? Relief?
Otherwise, you end up with generic answers like “Travel is great because I like to see new things”. And those don’t make for a memorable party, conversation, or case study.