After you have gotten to know your customers well enough, a great way to gain even more insight relative to their value systems and psychology is to ask how they grew up and, specifically, about their fathers. (A non-threatening way to broach the subject is to first offer a little insight about your own upbringing and your Dad’s role therein.)
The reason this is so interesting is because fathers often set the achievement blueprint in people’s minds relative to business, that is, what constitutes proper business behavior and success, also often setting the tone for how people want to be treated.
For example, a customer who grew up with a working class father may relate well to a no-nonsense, roll- up-your-sleeves approach and, conversely, have little tolerance for high minded talk. On the other hand, a customer whose father was a college professor may enjoy a healthy philosophical debate and perhaps deeper analysis of our value proposition.
When I hear the phrase, “My father was a tough guy …,” I can almost be sure I am up against very high standards of judgment and that it is going to take me a while to earn my customer’s deeper trust.
Understanding and relating well to our clients is part of the great fun of our business. It is like a puzzle, and part of the code can often be traced to an authority figure who you can be sure still sits prominently in our customers’ minds when they make important decisions.