It’s not about you, it’s about them
Stephan Schiffman, president of D.E.I. Management Group in New York, tells the story of the filming of Sleepless in Seattle. Director Rob Reiner took the two stars aside before the final scene of the movie and told each the same message. "This scene is not about you," Reiner said. "It’s about the other person." By focusing on each other, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks created one of the more memorable scenes in movie history, on top of the Empire State Building.
Don’t pretend to take notes. Actually do it. Don’t ask for permission or apologize for it. You’re job as a salesperson is to get information.
Ask, "How did you get this job?"
A lot of salespeople try to form business alliances without asking this question. It’s a good bridge-builder.
Ask, "What are you doing now in such-and-such area?"
Find out how the prospect or customer is dealing with issues in your area of specialty. Follow up with appropriate "how" and "why" questions, and you’ll get a good idea of how things work.
Ask, "What are you trying to accomplish in such-and-such area?"
This is a great question that people enjoy answering.
Encourage the other person to tell stories.
Nod with approval, or say things like "I see," and "uh-huh." This, rather than staring absentmindedly, will invite the person to continue speaking.
SOURCE: Stephan Schiffman, D.E.I. Management Group, New York, January 13, 1999.