It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since Larry King was dethroned. Many viewers were surprised that British TV personality Piers Morgan got that primetime gig on CNN. Gotta tell you from the start I’m not a big fan. It has nothing to do with his accent, his political stance, or his unfamiliarity with the way we Yanks think. For somebody in the interview business, Mr. Morgan is a marginal listener.
Product promotion and sales reps rely heavily on skillful interviewing techniques. Some of you are probably saying to yourself, I don’t interview customers I sell to them! Truth be told, if you’re not interviewing your doctors, you’re probably underselling.
Good interviewing engages both parties by combining solid questions and thoughtful answers. Great interviewing allows for the unexpected, posing follow-up questions that probe more deeply for the truth.
I discovered this is where I lose patience with Mr. Morgan. Sure enough, he starts with provocative questions but appears to stay married to the prearranged question list, ignoring opportunities to pursue the guest’s candid responses.
He rudely tramples his guests: no time for chit-chat, on to the next question. By comparison, this singular aspect always makes PBS host Charlie Rose so much more appealing.
He realizes that the guest will divulge far more meaningful information if given the opportunity. Count the number of times Charlie reflexively asks: “Tell me why you said that,” “Could you give me an example?,” or “Have you always felt that way?” Mr. Rose is serious about active listening!
Whenever conducting business with physicians, whether in-person or over the telephone, overcome the temptation to launch a preemptive data dump. Instead, here are three great reasons why you should consider framing your visits as interviews:
Ask open-ended questions and then take the time to listen so as to fully understand the physician’s response instead of anticipating the next question. Be more like Charlie! If this is an area of weakness for your sales reps, well-written sales call workshop focusing on interviewing and active listening skills will surely pay dividends.
Doctor Lloyd is a clinician-researcher with extensive experience in medical education, instructional design, and content development.