Mark Magnacca Shares the Two Questions that Tell You Everything

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Mark Magnacca. Check out Tahl Raz’s post on the interview here. You can access the audio recording here. Here’s the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – Mark Magnacca. Enjoy!

Mark Magnacca:    The set-up of this story of these two questions is from the meeting that Ronald Reagan had in Geneva, 1985 with the then Soviet Premier Gorbachev and one of the ideas inherent in this is understanding timing and having an actor sense of timing of being able to deliver the right question in the right way at the right time.  So, Reagan sitting in this meeting, it was a historic meeting, the first time they’ve ever met and as you may recall at that time, United States had more than twenty five thousand nuclear warhead pointed basically at the Soviet Union, they had an equivalent number pointed at us and Reagan was there and he discovered in his own mind, that for him to walk out of that meeting with the 10% reduction in nuclear weapons was a complete fraud because whether we could blow the world up about 10 times over or 9 times over, it really didn’t make any difference.  So, the certain point in the meeting Tahl, he looks at Gorbachev and he says, “how would you like to take a little walk with me outside and get some fresh air.”  That’s not an accidental question.  That was a pre-meditated question and within an instance, Ronald Reagan was on a video, one of the final videos on 60 minutes telling the story he says, “in a second, Gorbachev jumps up and says, “da” and out they go with Gorbachev’s translator, they walked down to a little cottage which Reagan had the fire burning and he had had warmed up and everything and he sits down and he says to Gorbachev, he says, “Mr. Gorbachev, we’re not armed, we’re not armed because we don’t distrust each other because we’re armed, we’re armed because we distrust each other.”  He said, “why don’t you and I spend a little time now to get to know each other and see if we can work out that issue of mistrust.”  In 60 minutes of them talking, they start walking back up and Reagan had another question, he says on the way back to the meeting with all the diplomats which they left alone, he says to Gorbachev, “why don’t we agree that we will have a summit in the United States next year and I’m inviting you to come,” and Gorbachev says, “I accept,” and then Gorbachev asked similar question, he says, “why don’t we agree that the following year the Summit will be in the Soviet Union.”  These two men walked back into the room, the diplomats had made no progress whatsoever and Reagan announces that these two guys have just agreed to do two Summits of the next two years.  It all changed because of the questions, so to bring that down to from geopolitical level to the person listening.   Here are two questions that you can ask in the spirit of Reagan’s questions.  The first question, you have to practice saying it and write it down preferably would be this: I would say to you Tahl, Tahl what do you see as the biggest opportunity to grow your business over the next 12 months, and then I would pause.

Tahl Raz:    Let me answer your question before that.  Do you think most people have a, most customers you dealt with have articulate answers for that?

Mark Magnacca:    Well, let me give you the next part and then I’ll answer that question.

Tahl Raz:     Okay.

Mark Magnacca:    Let’s do this; let’s do this as a live role player right now.  You and me and I’m asking you this specifically for my, okay.   Let’s pretend that I’m a communications expert and my job is helping you spread the word about your organization, but the truth is I don’t know that much about it.  So, we had a first meeting and I don’t know whether we’re going to work together, I don’t know if there’s a fit, there’s a match. I say, it’s just like this; “you know Tahl, whenever I meet somebody like you for the first time, I don t ever want to take for granted that I know what’s most important to you. So, will it be all right if I ask you just a few questions to better understand where you’re coming from.”

Tahl Raz:    Sure.

Mark Magnacca:    Okay. Tahl, here is the first question. As related to my, what would you say is the biggest opportunity that you see to grow this business over the next 12 months?

Tahl Raz:     Well, I think the biggest opportunity actually is something right along the line of what you do as refining your valued propositions and getting it out to sales and marketing channels to the right audience who are receptive to boosting their professional effectiveness and personal productivity and revenue potential to better relationship and more powerful personal network.

Mark Magnacca:    Okay, good.  Now, I’m just making a note about that what you said.  Let me ask you the follow-up question.   “What do you see as the biggest challenge you faced in trying to capitalize that opportunity of refining your value proposition and getting it out to those sales and marketing channels?”

Tahl Raz:    I think the biggest challenge actually is on a, those enterprise level to our  B2B clients and on an individual B2C level explaining to them exactly how better relationship and powerful personal network translate into a better performance of their organization and in their careers. I cannot be articulate than that.

Mark Magnacca:    So, now, what I want to do is pause and get out of the role play for the moment.  Imagine all of the stories that I could have told myself which many of us do about who you are, about what’s important to you, and I asked you two questions and it took less than 60 seconds.  I’ve written down your words so, what I would then do Tahl, I’m going to use your words back to you and I’m not going to do this in some kind of a manipulative form.  I simply know that most people believe their own words before they believe someone else’s word. Would you agree with that?

Tahl Raz:     It makes sense; it’s an interesting point, yes.

Mark Magnacca:    So, here what’s interesting, if I filtered everything you said, here’s what I took away from it, you said, “at enterprise level in the B2B and the B2C space, explaining to them how, what you do and how it translate into performance, why they should care which is really the essence of the ‘so what’ message, they have this ostensible kind of, “yes, I know relationship matter blah, blah, blah,”  but there isn’t a clear line in their head that going thru this program that you offer is going to move the needle specifically as it relates to revenues.  So, what I now understand is, if I was, one or two things will happened, I would then either realize that I have something, that can help you do that or I would be very honest with you and I would say you know, Tahl, I really appreciate your sharing this with me and you know, based on what you’ve said I have to be candid and let you know that, what you need is not in my sweets box but I want you to know that I have  friend in Dallas, Texas who is an expert in the arena that you’re looking for.  What I like to do, if you are interested, I’d be happy to make an introduction on your behalf and connects you to my friend and who I think maybe able to serve you in that challenge that you’re trying  to overcome.

So, I have two options, I can either engaged or disengaged, but the magic of what just happened with us is that, I got you to talk to me about your pain and you wouldn’t in most cases have revealed what the pain was given that we just got to know each other, number one; and number two, here’s the answer to your original question, “what happened with the most people know the answer?”  In my experience 50% of the time, people  it’s not that they don’t know the answer, it’s that there’s cobwebs in that part of their brain and so you ask the question and it takes a few second to process and the immature sales person wants to jump in to the silence because they’re afraid of the silence and the person whose practices I would know give it a few moments; one, one tap, two one tap, three one tap and the person is thinking and then very often after they’ve looked up at the ceiling and come back, “you know what,  my biggest opportunity?” and they hadn’t thought of it.  So, what you’ve done is you’ve actually expanded in their own mind what they believe is possible and then they reveal what their challenge, what their pain is, and now you are in a position to directly address, can I help them solve that pain or not?

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