Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello Canada, and friends reading around the world

Welcome to Knox Talk. With apologies to Foster Hewitt, I plan to use this space to share my thoughts on language, marketing, and sales - encounters with retail sales people will appear regularly here.

Until I get rolling, I plan on posting about once per week. If I come up with something that I really, really want to share, maybe twice.

This space is only as good as the thoughts posted. Post your thoughts regularly and I will do my best to respond swiftly. As usual, anything I deem sexist, racist, homophobic, or generally intolerant will be deleted immediately.

I look forward to many wonderful conversations.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Can I help you?

"Can I help you?" is a default question. It's a wall we are trained to put up when we want to give the impression of helpfulness (e.g. retail sales people). Seth Godin wrote a great post on defaults, which you can read at

Think about the last time you asked or were asked "can I help you?" I bet the response was "no." That's a default response to a default question.

What if, in a retail setting, you were asked, "what are you looking for today?" Your response could be equally dismissive (e.g. "nothing, just killing time") or the sales person could uncover a hidden want (e.g. "I want to replace my pair of Rockport dress shoes").

Do you ask default questions or do you ask "discover" questions that uncover hidden needs  that make you more valuable as a colleague or supplier (e.g. your co-worker is clueless with Excel, your client has a big event coming up)? Who do you think has more value in the eyes of colleagues and clients?