Listening Questions That Build Relationships

We’ve all been there. You have lunch with a business acquaintance you met at last week’s networking event. All they talk about is themselves, their company and what they are selling – as if you are the ideal customer and were praying to hear their product pitch.

These people come across as pushy. They ask only superficial questions and when you answer they try to turn your points into fodder for pitching features in their product. They make incorrect presumptions about the problems you face.  They only seem interested in themselves.listening questions

After your lunch, they may or may not follow up – surprisingly, or not, many sales people never follow up with even the warmest of leads. Either way, you leave with the feeling that you don’t really want to do business with this person.

Listen, Don’t Talk

If you’ve felt this way before about someone else, take note of your own dialog when you meet someone in a similar setting. If you’re too busy talking, you aren’t listening. Not everyone is a prospect.

Before you talk about yourself, ask your acquaintance questions designed to get them to talk. Here are some examples:

  • What kind of problems do you help your clients solve?
  • What are the top 3 issues you face in growing your business?
  • If you were able to give your average client a single piece of advice, what would it be?
  • What makes a client pick your company over your competition?

These questions will help you understand what is important to them. By understanding their motivations, you will have a better understanding of how you can help – if at all.  Don’t pitch your idea or product. Use phrases like these:

  • Have you thought about…
  • What’s been your experience with trying…
  • Have you seen a change in ROI in the current method you use for…
  • What was your team’s reaction to…

You are not selling. You are listening. When they feel that you understand them, they will be receptive to your pitch. Start by saying something like this:

  • You know, I think I might have a solution for…
  • I think I have a contact that you might want to meet…
  • I’ve got an idea that might help…

Offer to help them solve their issues. Don’t ask for the sale.

If you help them, the sale will come.

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