What would you say if I told you that there is actually one one sales question you can ask, that will tell you more about someone that any other question you could ask?
When trying to learn about another individual, there are a few indisputable facts. To start with, it all begins with trust, and here is what I know to be true:
- If someone doesn’t trust another, they’re not going to open up to that other person.
- Trust is never just given; it must be earned.
- Earning of trust is done by asking questions, and listening to answers.
- The questions that you ask must be sincere, and must allow the person being questioned to tell “their story.”
Not long ago I had a conversation with my buddy Bubba, who is a salesperson I’ve known for over 20 years. I’ve met very few salespeople as good as he is. Our discussion centered around questions that can be ask to build trust between people, and questions that, when answered, reveal volumes about the other person. He shared with me the best question I’ve personally ever come across.
Now, before I present you with the best question I’ve ever come across, I should probably mention the two characteristics of a very good question.
First, it should be an open question. Open questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” When asking questions and trying to create trust, we are not “interrogating” another individual. Open questions require a more thoughtful response from those who are answering it, and the more someone talks, the more they like the person they are talking to.
Second, it should be a question that did not involve a particular problem. Don’t get me wrong, at some point we will ask questions that are not as comfortable to answer, but those questions have to wait until trust has been established.
So we know that if we are going to use questions to create trust, those initial questions are critical. That’s why the simplicity and effectiveness of the following question resonated so deeply within me. The question was this:
“Everyone has a story. I’m interested in listening to yours. Could you tell me your story?”
You would be amazed at where that question can lead. The answer to that particular question can provide an instant window into another person’s personality, just by the depth of his or her response. The answer to that question can provide information that someone may rarely tell another individual. The truth is that people want to tell other people their story. The beauty of this question is that it’s non-threatening to the people you’re asking; they can answer with as much or as little depth as they feel comfortable.
The next time you are in a situation where you really want to get to know another person, and you want to begin to create trust, ask that question. Then settle back, and listen carefully. There’s no telling where the story might end up, but conversation will end in a deeper level of trust. Thanks Bubba.
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