The Key to Connection is Conversation

The key to connection is conversation. The secret of conversation is asking questions. The quality of the answers you receive depends upon the quality of your questions. That is critical in sales.

Learning how to ask relevant questions was an important part of my own educational experience. When I was a young woman, I was a hairstyling apprentice in the south of England, working in a very posh salon. As soon as I got to know our rich, glamorous customers, I used to say, “What were you doing when you were my age? How did you make your money? Did you make it yourself, or did you marry it? If you made it yourself, how did you do it? If you married it, where did you meet him?” Good market research.

My brother Robert Fripp is always saying, “Sister, you ask people such personal questions.” In 24 years behind a hairstyling chair and decades of attending meetings and conferences, sitting next to people on airplanes and at networking events, nobody has ever said, “That’s none of your damn business.”

People love talking about themselves when they can tell the person asking questions is genuinely interested in hearing their answers.

When I worked in the financial district of San Francisco in a men’s hairstyling salon when that was a new industry. I used to ask, “What made you the top salesperson in your company? What did you do with your little company that motivated a big company to pay you millions of dollars?”

The key to connection is conversation. The secret of conversation is to ask questions, and the quality of the answers you receive depends on the quality of those questions.

I would challenge you, in networking events, prospect meetings, with clients, in fact, anywhere you meet a new person, to ask good questions.

I work on the principle that everyone is more interested in themselves than they are in me. That is not a bad premise to work by. You might have heard me talk about you-focused language in presentations. The first time you have a prospect call, you need to be asking more questions than talking about your company. Whenever possible, put what they say back into your presentation because your prospects, customers, and clients will never disagree with themselves.

The key to connection is conversation. We are living in strange and uncertain times, and your success depends very much on the quality and quantity of your relationships.

To be considered an interesting person, be interested. Ask questions. This is Patricia Fripp. I hope you find this valuable. And don’t ever celebrate closing a sale; instead, celebrate the launch of a relationship.

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