“When we know what drives people, we get to skip the motivational mumbo-jumbo and simply focus on helping them reach the goals that are important to them.”— Misti Burmeister

Have you ever wondered why, despite your exceptional service, customers keep going to the competition? What gives? And more importantly, how do you get them to stay and refer others?

Whether we’re talking about keeping talented employees or valuable clients, the answer is the same: Ask the right questions and then listen.

If you don’t stop long enough to hear what’s motivating them, how can you make a compelling case for why they should choose you?

Here’s a great example: I recently attended a networking function at an upscale steakhouse in Baltimore, Maryland. Afterwards, the manager approached me and asked how I liked my lunch.

“I only ate a small salad,” I responded. “But it was good.”

“Have you tried our steaks?” he asked, with a burst of enthusiasm. “They are the best in town.”

I had not, in fact, tried the steaks, because I didn’t have enough information on this restaurant’s meat quality. Due to an insatiable curiosity about how food products are grown (or raised), I have spent crazy amounts of time studying farming topics – including grass-fed, grain-finished, organic, locally-grown, etc.

In fairness, I don’t know that there’s a “right” way to eat, but I certainly want to adjust my diet to the best way, given what’s available. So I am choosey about the food I put into my body.

With this in mind, I asked the manager, “Do you serve meat from cows that have eaten grass their entire lives?”

“No, but we have the very best meat in Baltimore,” he said. “Do you have a couple minutes? I’d like to show you something.”

Inspired by his enthusiasm, I followed him to the freezer in the back of the restaurant. “My competitors talk about how great their ‘aged meats’ are,” he explained, “but they’re talking about ‘wet aged,’ not ‘dry aged,’ which is truly the best.”

As he started explaining the process for aged meats, I stopped him and asked, “Do any of these meats come from 100-percent grass-fed cows?”

“No, but let me take you in here and show you just how long we age our meats after they’ve already dried.”

“What if I don’t really care about ‘dry aged’ meats?”


“Now, if you told me your aged beef came from grass-fed, hormone-free cows, I would be ecstatic to hear all about it!”

“You give me 10 days notice next time,” he said, “and I’ll get the meat you want.”

While driving to my next meeting, I thought about how much time the manager would have saved both of us if he had just listened to what drives my decisions and cut to the chase with his promise to get the kind of meat I prefer. He would also have been much more likely to secure me as a regular customer.

When we know what drives people, we get to skip the motivational mumbo-jumbo and simply focus on helping them reach the goals that are important to them. This is as true for customers as it is for employees.

When you listen in, you stand out.

Would you rather LISTEN? Click here. 

Join the Conversation: Have you ever had an experience like this with a boss or a salesperson? How did you handle it?

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations and Hidden Heroes

Misti on Google+