episode 3:
How to be a master interviewer, vol. 1


Hey friends and fam, this is Hannah and this is a podcast about how the EFF to get your customer to open up in an interview and write your copy for you.

If you’ve listened to my podcast, the last two episodes, you know, I’m trying out different intros to these podcasts with different points of emphasis and language. So that’s my why. That’s why my intros are all over the place and if you have ideas or feedback, hit me up.

k, so today I want to talk about something that popped into my mind as soon as I got up and it came up again in an email I got from a subscriber to my list. Brad, Hi Brad! Shout out to Brad!

What is that topic for today that Brad helped fuel? Well, here’s a bit of backstory for context.

I started a Facebook page yesterday. I’m not 100% sure I’m going to keep it going.

 If you want to take a peek, feel free. It’s called better customer interviews with Hannah. Just add me on Facebook under Hannah Shamji as a friend, and you’ll see mention of it on my timeline.

But here’s why.I don’t know if I want to keep it going a mere 20 hours after it’s birth. Right after I created the page yesterday morning I decided, let me just do a quick live so I did.

Side note: The live is on should or should you not record customer interviews. Not My favorite topic. I don’t think I’ll be doing another logistical live like that again. It was just, I dunno, lame for my taste. Feel free to go check it out if you’re so inclined. I’d love to hear what you think, but back to what I was saying here is my bigger point. Right after I posted that video and a bit before posting it, I was nervous, like really nervous.

I was caught in this social media vortex. You know the one: wanting approval, eyes, attention, views, likes, loves, comments, all of the buzzwords. And, I think that’s why this topic popped into my mind because last night after doing my video I realized how needy I was feeling and how icky that felt.

Which brings me to today’s topic: Neediness. Now, this is a topic I’ve only really read about in the marketing space from Ben settle and Brad, my email subscriber-friend that I mentioned a minute ago, he wrote to me this morning in response to an email I sent out to my list on this embarrassing blunder I made in my first podcast episode. He said he’s probably done way more embarrassing things than what I mentioned, but that he doesn’t get embarrassed easily. Those kinds of things just don’t stick.

And I wanted to raise this because not feeling embarrassed easily….it’s kind of the flip side of feeling needy. It’s almost like if you don’t get embarrassed easily, you have this armor around you, this higher tolerance to people acting out or doing things you don’t like. You don’t need people to respond to you a certain way for you to feel a certain way, right? You’re more removed and less impacted by others or the situation which is a really key skill and customer interviewing or even bigger in general conversations with any human being, but especially humans you want something from.

This notion of neediness is so big, it would behoove me not to talk about it. Because neediness is a really big turnoff. And you don’t need me to tell you that. You’ve felt it yourself when someone likes you, but in a desperate won’t leave you alone kind of way. Maybe you’ve seen it in the relentless can’t-take-a-hint marketing that feels needy or you felt the weight of it with an insecure friend or partner, someone who points fingers at you because you didn’t notice them enough. Or you’re not spending enough time with them.

But you’ve also felt it on the flip side. Maybe with a prospect, someone you really want to work with and their neediness feels like desperately wanting to impress, to be seen, to be liked and noticed and quote unquote win and engagement. Are you nodding your head right now? Is this resonating with you? Because if it is and well, even if it isn’t, let me be clear that having a need or feeling needy isn’t inherently bad.

It’s human. I mean, of course at times we do in fact need things. We do in fact have needs. Babies need parents. Businesses need money to survive. We need clients to help our business grow. There is need. Needing something isn’t a problem, but being needy is.

Being needy is like this social mask we put on where we have an ulterior motive and an insecurity, but we don’t actually own it.

So this came up when I was running customer interviews for a client. They were exit interviews and I did two of the four things I want to share with you at the outset of the interview to welcome that honest, negative feedback. 

Instead we put it on the other person, the person we’re talking to, as though it’s their job to deal with our neediness and make us feel better, cater to our neediness, resolve it. Which of course it isn’t their job to do. But in a conversation with your customer, in an interview, neediness is a really common thing to creep up and it looks like this:

It looks like feeling antsy in the conversation because you’re not getting the answers that you want. It looks like getting annoyed at the customer ’cause they’re talking around the topic. Again. It looks like repeating the same question or a version of the same question because they’re “not getting it”. It also looks like not being present in the conversation, being so focused on your needs and your goals that you forget you’re speaking to a live 3D human and you forget to respond to what they’re saying in the moment.

Now, for those of you who feel not being needy is fine and a fair point, but not necessarily worthy of so much attention when it comes to customer interviews. Think again. Because being needy kills relationships before they even start. It ruins friendships. It makes people not want to spend time with you when all you really want to do is spend time with them. But the way you’re asking is SO needy. It’s just uninviting. It’s too much about you.

And we know that when it’s about you and not about your customer, not about your reader, they can’t – won’t – will not – should not CARE. So. Same principles as in copywriting. But being needy – or not being needy – is even more important in customer interviews. Because it’s a realtime conversation. There’s no screen to separate the two of you to check your feelings behind, to step away from the copy and come back and write from when you’re in a better feeling place.

So, if you feel needy and you don’t manage your neediness or desperation and put it aside, the alternative is your ego, 9 times out of 10, finds a way for that neediness to be let out. Which is obviously not going to help your customer want to open up, let alone actually open up.

Admittedly, this is tricky, when you’re 3 customer interviews in and you’re not really coming up with anything concrete or helpful to write that sales page, or maybe you’ve had a bunch of cancellations already and fair enough, this is not a directly money-related conversation. It’s not like talking to a prospect where you know you kind of need to bring your A game. Maybe with a customer you’re a bit more lax, especially if they’re a past customer, if they’re not your customer.

All of these things play into your level of impatience, how tolerant you are of what I call it, the “human effect”. The “human effect” being when you ask someone a question and they don’t answer it directly. They answer something completely different or they answer in a way that isn’t what you’re getting at. So check yourself before you go into these interviews because what you get out of them is going to depend heavily, highly, and tremendously on you. On how you show up. On how you navigate the conversation. And being needy is a really narrow way to navigate that conversation.

So feel the need. Act based on need. But don’t BE needy. Cash that at the start your conversation. Cool? Alright, that’s all I’ve got for you today. If you liked it, and even if you didn’t, let me know. Give me a review on iTunes. Send me an email (at hannah@hannahshamji.com). I would love to hear from you. I’ll pop the link for review in the show notes on my website and in the email I send out linking to this episod. And, more soon. Happy customer conversations, people! Bye.