Before I get to those four greatest words, allow me to share some examples of the not-so-greatest words anyone can ever hear (business version):
- We missed our numbers.
- We’re out of coffee. (personal favorite)
- The boss is pissed.
I could go on and on, of course. And here some examples of the four greatest words anyone can ever hear (personal version):
- I have free money.
- Did you lose weight?
- I bought more coffee. (personal favorite)
Music To My (and Your) Ears
In my career as a marketer, creative director, chief provocateur (yes, I once held that enviable title) and journalist, there is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — I love more than hearing the following four words:
Let me explain.
Whenever I hear these four words in ANY context — meaning, if I am interviewing, consulting with, or coaching someone, or merely engaged in normal, everyday conversation with the person on the street, I can deduce that:
- I have their undivided attention.
- I have caused them to stop on a dime and think about XXX in a completely different manner.
- I have earned their respect.
Think about your own situation/life and whenever YOU’VE said these four words back to someone following a query.
NOW juxtapose all this over a conversation with a customer or prospect on ANY topic. See what I mean?
However, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about eliciting this response.
- DO pay attention, intently, to what the other person is saying — obvious perhaps, but VITAL.
- DO NOT try and formulate a question ahead of time whose sole intention is to draw the desired reply. Translation: DO NOT subconsciously try — while you’re listening — to think of a question to elicit the magic four-word reply. IT WILL NOT WORK. It has to come organically during the course of a conversation. Period.
- DO follow up once you’ve achieved nirvana, as it were. In other words, no matter how the other person replies AFTER the four words, don’t move on right away. For example: The person responds with “That’s a great question. I never thought of it like that. I’ll have to think about to the best way to do that.”
- NOW, assuming the context is germane to what your particular company does, you on the other end need to say something to the effect of “I’ll schedule some time when we can talk specifically about this.” Obviously this verbiage will vary greatly based on the context but the key is not to just let it go once you get that response!
That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!
Channeling my inner Kenny Banya (the “Seinfeld” character who liked one of Jerry’s jokes so much he called it gold), when you hear these four words it is indeed gold. But, you have to mine that gold, if you will.
Pay close attention to the conversations you have now that you’ve read this, and see how many times either you say the magic words or someone does in response to something you asked.
Then let me know all about in the comments section. I love to hear examples of the power of these otherwise innocuous words.
This article originally appeared on MediaPost.