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Information Interviews [How To]

Information InterviewsInformation interviews are the key when you're confused about...

...what job to pursue, at what companies...

...when you want to know what your target market is interested in concerning your offer...

...when you want to make sales but don't know your new niche.
 
If you can't say out loud and clearly:

> Why you want a specific job at a specific company

or

> Why decision makers in the niche you're entering want to buy from you

then you badly need to do some information interviews.

Why?

The fact is, this is your target market. And hearing what they want and value in their own words is critical. Nothing else is more important. Not what you believe their desires and values are. Not what you hope or think they will be.

When we talk about pain points, this is what we mean. These words. These phrases. This jargon. This terminology. When you repeat these pain points to members of your target market, they will listen. These terms will resonate with them and that will give you instant credibility.

When we talk about finding the work role you truly enjoy, you need to know several things. What people who do that job actually do all day. What they like. What they don't like. How different the same job is at different companies with different cultures. How those companies hire.

These critical knowledge points and more are readily available in information interviews.

People are cooperative and like to show off what they know (I'm doing it right now!). So let them.

This isn't hard. Nearly everyone you call will be open to at least talking with you on the phone for a few minutes. You may have to schedule a time to call back or meet in person later, and that's fine.

Information Interviews for Job Hunt Satisfaction

So say there's a job you want to do, you think, and you'd like to find out more about it. The funny thing is, the same job done at different companies can be totally different experiences because of cultures. So it's best to talk to three or four people doing that job at separate firms to get perspective.

To find these people is not difficult. You can use LinkedIn. Or you can use a simple method called the Little Unsure technique, where you ask the receptionist, "Hi, I'm not sure who I should speak with...I'm looking for the person who does [whatever role it is]. But again, I'm not sure who that would be there..." and trail off.

This method is very effective.

You may get voicemail. 3/4 times the person you're calling won't be available to take your call. Don't take it personally. Leave a quick message or call back later now that you have the name.

For messages or live answers, say you are doing some research, are interested in the role they have and are wondering if it's right for you. If they could speak with you for about 15 minutes, it would be very helpful. If now's not a good time, when would work?

Have your questions ready. They may want to go ahead right now.

I have had employees get time for such interviews in person approved by their boss...again, people want to be cooperative. Once in awhile you may find someone who is "too busy". Simply move on. No big deal. That person is probably not a fit anyway.

The higher you go in larger organizations, the nicer the people you'll find. How did the leaders in most organizations get there? The Sales career path. They know all about cold calling. They appreciate it.

Nearly all of the success factors here are getting past your fears. These fears are simply not valid. They don't hold true in the real world. Nearly everyone is flattered someone would ask their opinion. Go find out whether this job is really something you want. And you'll also find out what kind of different corporate cultures exist...which will play a big part in your job selection, if you're smart.

Don't be in "I'll Take Anything" mode. Start sorting.

Have an interview plan. What is the purpose of the interview? Don't be wishy-washy. Your two questions today could have used a lot more detail.

Here's an example of several information interviews with fellow sales professionals.

Write out your questions beforehand. Of course one or two new questions will occur to you while conducting the interview; ask them, too. But have your base set up.

Think about your request from their perspective: WHY would they want to participate? Yes, people want to be cooperative and helpful. But No, they do not want to create content for you (for example, I am asked to be interviewed all the time by people who are compiling such expert interviews to then SELL them...why on earth should I give them content so they can make money with it?!).

So be clear about your purpose.

You really must be looking for expertise, not digging for a job. Fake purpose will be seen through immediately and it will hurt your reputation.

Collecting a series of these interviews online around a specific topic is a great differentiating factor for job hunting, however. This is positioning.

Information Interviews for Pain Points

Information interviews to uncover pain points are very similar. Use the Little Unsure technique to reach the decision maker. Tell them you're doing some research. Then have a straightforward conversation about your topic.

Have they considered buying or have they bought what you offer?

How did they go about that?

On what criteria did they choose their provider? Why did that matter? (Hint: Price is not the real reason...and if it is, you don't want that buyer as a customer.)

For both job hunting and finding pain points, realize you must do several of these to get correlation. One or two is not enough. However, the activity level and payoff for booking and completing say a half-dozen information interviews is very powerful. You will feel incredibly confident because you finally understand your market.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business development expert who has had companies create custom roles for him on four occasions. Was this information helpful to you? Please Like or Share to let others know. And if you have a question about information interviews, Comment below! <<

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Jason Kanigan

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