Sales and coaching methodologies are often based on questions (What value does your product or service bring? Why should I choose you over your competitor?). But it’s the answers to these questions that influence buyer decisions.
Dr. Brian Glibkowski is dedicated to researching this very topic. He determined that there are six different types of answers: theory, story, concept, metaphor, procedure, and action. His book, Answer Intelligence: Raise Your AQ details answer intelligence and the surrounding framework that can be used in demos and sales conversations.
He discusses the book, along with this AQ framework and how it can be incorporated into a sales engineering team in the latest episode of the PreSales Podcast with James Kaikis, which you can listen to here.
Below, Dr. Glbkowski provides a familiar example of using this framework.
My book Answer Intelligence: Raise Your AQ is an examination of expert communication. Answer Intelligence (AQ)™ is the ability to provide elevated answers to important questions. Through an AQ lens, Steve Jobs’ demos were effective because they provided six answer types that clustered into three styles: Relational, Analytical, and Practical. To illustrate, let’s consider some of Steve Jobs’ greatest demo hits: the original iPhone, iPod, and Apple Store launches.
The Analytical Style: Concept + Theory
In 2007, the original iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs, where he proclaimed: “What we want to do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been, and super easy to use. That is what iPhone is.”
This proclamation was punctuated by speaking in front of an oversighted 2x2 matrix that further emphasized his point.
In AQ terms, Steve Jobs was answering implicit but important questions.Question: “What is iPhone?”Answer: It is smart and easy (two key concepts).Question: “Why buy the iPhone?Answer: His intonation with his delivery made clear his theory for the iPhone. The iPhone is smart and easy, and we love it (a theory is a cause-and-effect logic).
On your next demo, use the analytical style to provide key concepts and theories to explain and predict.
The Relational Style: Story + Metaphor
When Steve Jobs launched the iPod in 2001, he described it as “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
Question: “What is the iPod?”Answer: It is a jukebox in your pocket (a metaphor). Everyone loves a jukebox in their pocket. After all, a jukebox was smart technology in its day (it could store an entire record collection) and easy (just put in a dime and listen).Question: “Why buy the iPod?”Answer: He did not do so during the product launch, but he could have easily shared stories of rocking out with a diner jukebox and relating that to the iPod.
On your next demo, use the relational style to make an emotional connection.
The Practical Style: Procedure + Action
Also in 2001, Apple announced the opening of the first 25 Apple Stores. In a promotional video, Steve Jobs sat down at the Genius Bar and said:“Wouldn’t it be great if when you went to buy a computer, or after you bought a computer, you could ask a genius if you had question? Well, that is what we’ve got.”Question: “How do you work with Apple?”Answer: “You use the Genius Bar because it is smart and easy.” The Genius Bar evoked simple procedures (no lines, no waiting, pull up a chair) and access to an expert (an Action in AQ terms).
On your next demo, use the practical style to explain how work gets done.
AQ is a skill you can Improve
You too can demo like Steve Jobs. AQ is a skill anyone can learn. My research indicates that the best communicators in the world shared 5 High AQ practices. Take the FREE Explore AQ Assessment to test your AQ.
Dr. Brian Glibkowski is an author, researcher, and futurist passionate about the role of questions and answers in business and society.
His journey started with his research on questions. He authored an article on questions that has been recognized by the Association of Human Resource Development as one of ten articles that will shape the 21st century.
During his research on questions, one simple observation stopped him in his tracks. We know a lot about questions. We know very little about answers. In grade school we teach children about questions, not answers. Our children learn about the six wh-questions (why, what when, where, who, how) and they learn about open and closed questions. There is no typology of answers we teach our children. Journalists, physicians, sales reps, executive coaches, and almost all professionals have been trained in questions, not answers. Business books with question in the title outnumber books with answer in the title 3 to 1.
His new book is Answer Intelligence: Raise Your AQ. The book introduces a new science of answers that is nominated for a 2022 Prose award for professional and scholarly excellence. The book rights have been purchased for translation into multiple languages. The AQ framework has been adopted by universities, including the Imperial College of London Business School (global top 20). Certified AQ Partners from the USA, UK, UAE, Australia, India, and elsewhere use AQ with forward thinking organizations around the world.