So this week the memoirs of an interviewer were serialised. No ordinary journalist, the man concerned held the crown for most rabid interrogator of politicians in the UK for a fair old while.
I was a huge fan of his work in his prime. The nightly show he fronted was (and is sometimes still when Evan Davis is on) my favourite regular telly (the best in years being the Savile edition fronted by the peerless Eddie Mair).
I saw live the famous ‘did you (threaten to) overrule him?’ repeated barrage (the youtube clip above). But alas, like many a band from your more youthful days, you lament that their later work was not so hot.
One broadsheet – you’d suspect for whom he’d have close alignment – recognised this. Knowing that the time came when his ‘rebellious spirit turned to bored cynicism’.
For me, it began when in the bowels of the Blair administration, he seemed to lay off them. A rare series of pieces outside the pen, from South African elections, were wholly unrepresentative. Then there were his openers of the two main party Leaders at the 2015 General Election; “How many food banks are there in Britain?” & “Is Britain full?” Well beneath par. Not to mention the ludicrous taxpayer-funded million-pound paycheck…
Still, the glory days were quite luminous. So with his pre-launch PR comes a career retrospective Q&A. Within which I was delighted to see there were a trio of sales pointers that we can take from the overall fantastic, Jeremy Paxman.
Don’t Be A Mug
He would never submit questions in advance. Quite right. Yet he suggested that anyone agreeing to an interview without asking what it would be about was a “mug”.
How often I have seen salespeople rock up to a meeting and not really know what it’s about. Even worse, the prospect is not really aware why it’s taking place.
I would add though, that we can submit questions before a meeting. It can be a great qualification tool. A sheet or two of simple queries to help you prepare. And gather the growing engagement of the prospect. Even slip in a devil part-way through…
Tough Questions In Early
I like this a lot. Nervous salespeople can leave the killer question hanging in the air ’til it’s too late. Which not even a Hat Stand Close can rescue. He favours getting this in early. It sets the tone and, perhaps for him more crucial, allows the session to end climbing on an upward note.
Once the grilling is over, there might be also be a floating tension. He cracks this with these two little words. He suggests it both disarms and allows the other person to realise the danger has been thwarted.
An interesting close for sure. One readily applicable to any sales meeting finish.