Most people hate interviewing but all marketing campaigns start with talking to ideal clients. Here’s how to conduct winning interviews even when you know nothing about the niche and have never met the person before.
I’m working on the launch of a new community. We’re slated to go live in a few weeks, so it’s all hands on deck to get the messaging dialed in.
The first step is to conduct interviews with ideal clients. I’m leading the interviews because it’s one of my favorite things to do but I’m also being joined by leaders from other departments.
So imagine this scenario:
I’m the marketing strategist. My specialty is voice, belief structures, and creating a whole new universe for the customers to enjoy inside the community. But I’m not the only one making the magic.
There are other talented people in all departments… UX designers, product creators, content marketers, SEOs, web developers, editors, people who will guide the customer journey inside the membership, to name a few.
The number of perspectives that have to be accounted for is mind-boggling.
It’s Monday morning. I’m on zoom getting ready for the first interview.
From my team, there’s me and an important person from another department. This is someone I care about and want to be successful. But that person’s success depends on what I say next.
We’re hanging out together waiting for the clock to chime the top of the hour.
Nervous excitement is running high.
And to make it more interesting, the niche for this community has a reputation for being full of eccentric personalities.
Will they even want to talk to me?
This call could go sideways… fast.
I take a deep breath. Hit “start meeting” on zoom. And say hi.
What happens next?
Two things happened. One, all my worst fears came true. And two, the interviews were a huge success.
How can both be true?
The interviewees were as eccentric, brilliant, and all over the map as I had feared. And, because of my “both” approach to interviewing, we quickly got on track. All parties had a great time.
Here’s how I did it…
7 Tips for Conducting Ideal Client Interviews When the Stakes are High
The most important advice I could give anyone conducting high stakes interviews is to get comfortable being in a “both” scenario.
If you’ve heard of the improv technique of “yes and,” this will seem familiar to you.
Here’s how “yes and” works for interviewing.
- Questions. Carefully prepare a list of questions for the interview. Meditate on them. Review them with friends or colleagues. Make sure they’re complete. 100% rock solid. AND be prepared to throw them out the window and talk about whatever the interviewee is interested in.
- Timing. Be early for your interview. Make sure your tech is set up. Be appropriately dressed. AND be aware the other person may be late, with poor tech, and in their jammies. It’s okay. Just roll with it.
- Leadership. Be absolutely certain that you’re leading the interview. Not the person being interviewed. And not the other people from their team. AND be ready to graciously hand the interview over to whomever wants to speak next because ultimately, it’s not about you, it’s about getting the best results for everyone.
- Flow and rapport. Jump into the call by assuming rapport. Pretend you’re best friends and that you’re both fully comfortable talking about the topic. Most of the time, this strategy works. AND be aware that the other person might not enjoy the huge leap from stranger to best friend. Be prepared to drop back and sense where they are to establish a comfortable rhythm for you both.
- Control. Assume you’re the leader of the interview. This is a blessing for both of you because it means at least one person is in charge. AND be aware the other person has probably gotten this same advice! So take on an attitude of co-leading. Realize that you’re both creating a once-in-a-lifetime moment and with some flexibility, you’ll both enjoy the experience.
- Being goal oriented. Yes, you need to get the information so you can sell your product. However, the person is in the interview with you out of generosity. They’re offering you a gift. So go for your goal AND remember to lean back into the moment. I try not to give people the advice to relax because I’m terrible at relaxing. But if you settle into the moment just a bit, you’ll see that it’s easier to make the connection.
- Documentation. Always record the call, if you can. Having a direct record of exactly what was said is helpful. AND take time afterward to write your own notes. Write down whatever you remember from the interview and also write down your impressions, ideas for moving forward, and any red flags you saw. This is important because the video will never replace your ability to feel into the moment and draw conclusions that will heavily impact next steps.