Salespeople spend a lot of time talking, but not nearly enough time listening to what their prospects and clients have to say. Understanding the value of asking the right questions is incredibly important and engaging with your prospect is key.

It’s important to remember that they aren’t interested in your personal stories. What people do care about however is themselves – so keep the conversation focused on them! This is where open-ended questions come in. These questions start with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘where’, or ‘how’.

These types of questions are a great way to elicit information from a new prospect. This way you can register and log that detail for further dealings with the client.

People are often suspicious that we’re just trying to sell them something they don’t need. Put your prospect at ease and break through their barriers, but be careful not to overstep your mark and talk about subjects that might make them uncomfortable.

Start by building rapport and putting them at ease with the following rule for conversations: Work – Social/Hobbies – Family.

As your first port of call, ask open-ended questions about what they do professionally. Examples of these questions would include:

“How long have you worked for this company, Mr/Ms Smith?”

“What type of job do you do?”

“Why did you choose to work in this industry?”

People are generally quite happy to talk about what they do for a living, especially those who are passionate about what they do. I can guarantee you that if you ask open-ended questions, the person you’re meeting with will find you interesting, even though they know nothing about you.

Once you have asked questions about work and got an understanding of why they do what they do, you can then move on to ‘social’ or ‘hobbies’.

Ask open-ended questions about what they do when they’re not at work, what kind of hobbies or interests they have, whether they are part of a social club or a sports team, etc. Try to understand what your prospect does in their spare time and what they are passionate about. If you’re listening to what they do in their spare time, it might also give you the opportunity to get introductions to other potential prospects.

Once you’ve asked your prospect about their work and social life, you can then move on to learning more about their family. If your prospect tells you the names of any of their family members, make sure to remember them! The prospect will be very impressed if you mention those names later on.

If you find out that your prospect has kids, then you’ll be able to sell them an education savings plan, or a family car. Knowing your prospect well will ensure that you’re able to offer them the product or service that’s right for them.

It’s really important that we take care to understand the psychology and the dynamic that exists between the prospect and the salesperson. If you get it right, it’s going to be great. If you get it wrong, it’s going to be a problem, so make sure that you’re sensitive to that.

Remember that the fact that they’re meeting you means that there’s an interest. And it’s your job to take them from the small amount of interest that they may have, to convincing them that you’re the right professional for them. Your job is to get them over those barriers so that they have complete faith in the fact that you’re the person that they should be dealing with on this matter.

Be aware of the fears that your prospect might have, and the process that they’ll have to go through when dealing with you. If you learn how to handle these fears, it’ll make a big difference.

If you want to find out more about the questions that I ask potential clients, how I build rapport, and how I secure deal after deal by understanding the psychology of my prospects then watch the playback of my recent Facebook Live here.