“Conversations are the currency of relationship. If you’re in business then relationships are the key to success… especially if you’re in the kind of business that requires the development of trust and respect in order for a transaction to happen.”

Just how creative are you in setting up conversations with clients? Have you pulled any stunts or wowed them in a way that gave them no option but to hire you?

Conversations can play out in predictable ways – especially in client or sales pitches. You do the meet and greet, introductions, thank yous, and you probably dive straight into how great your thingamajig is. But do you ever really manage to stop your prospect in their tracks with a thought-provoking idea or a new way to view their problem or business challenge? Do you surprise and delight them?

My guest, Mark Walmsley does and has – many times over. He thrives on talking to people and so networking is a comfort zone for him. And not just talking to people but having interesting conversations. You get the sense that Mark is looking at your problem or situation with a different lens – one you sometimes wish you had. He has energy but he’s calm. He’s playful in an easy and humble way rather than a showy limelight way. And he holds up a mirror for you without making you feel judged. Few of us are gifted that way, no?

“The winning question at the end of conversations, especially a pitch meeting, “I assume you’ve been ticking boxes against the criteria you’ve set for this selection process. I may not get another chance to reassure you so could you please tell me know if I’ve failed to reassure you.” That is the magic question because you cannot lose.”

Once you listen to this episode, you’ll get why people say they feel more creative when Mark’s around. He has loads of stories to share and he switches between work stories and family stories because for Mark, it’s all about relationships.

Jump Spots

2:46 – Better ideas when Mark is around

4:34 – Listen between the lines, pacing and pauses

7:44 – Conversation as currency of relationships

8:18 – Content and delivery, communicating something of value

10:29 – How and why, what’s different and remarkable

11:00 – Using questions, seek first to understand, make others feel important

12:10 – Leave the person in my debt; name badges at networking events

12:50 – Interest in others; not easily bored; enthusiasm

15:22 – Labels at networking events; “turtle-wrangler”; Scott Ginsberg, nametag

17:46 – Labels that communicate more e.g. “Preventative Osteopath”

19:32 – Creativity, playfulness, humour; funeral director strapline; discoun-tents

21:21 – Humour – powerful and delicate; caution for new hires and when networking

25:04 – Finishing other people’s sentences, racing ahead vs being in the present

27:24 – Thinking at depth; 3 questions (need, options, conclusions)

29:09 – The third way; ideas that wouldn’t have emerged in isolation; the creative environment

31:55 – Body language and facial expression; smiling and openness; calmness, the glue

33:38 – Company in-fighting; uniting the team to focus on “our customer”; culture shift

36:07 – Simple ideas with huge downstream impact; Levi’s 501 advert with Nick Kamen (1985); turnaround 

37:32 – Accountability to your customer; “customer-focused”; addressing the “why”

38:48 – Mark Twain, I’ve written you a long letter…; appearing simple

39:29 – Best conversation with my daughter (I spy); listening for moments of importance

42:02 – Creative conversations; Xerox and the nasal surgeon; Findus and vegetables

45:49 – Analogies; schizophrenia 

47:57 – Conversations are the currency of relationships; listening between the lines; recording conversations

50:11 – The winning question at the end of (pitch) meeting; conversation engineering; decreasing the risk of leaving things unsaid

54:30 – Conceding a failing at the start of a conversation; client testimonial; healthcare pitch

56:14 – Pitch team introduced by their happiest client; surprise, delight, and creativity

Connect with Mark

To connect with Mark Walmsley or to let him know what you enjoyed about his conversation:

LinkedIn | Website | Email | Twitter

Better Conversations with Sehaam Cyrene

Better Conversations with me Sehaam Cyrene where we have conversations about good conversations, rubbish conversations, and thought-provoking conversations. My guests are candid, open and disarmingly intimate about their conversation habits. 

If you’d like to appear on the show or have a burning question about conversations, do drop me a line – podcast@betterconversations.co – I’m all ears. Or book a 30-minute chat with me to explore conversations.