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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Asking Questions

I am a lifelong learner.

At least once a year, I attend a seminar, class or conference, and I always go in with an open mind. Sometimes I find myself asking why I signed up, because I have so much work to do back at the office. But I have learned, over and over again, that there is always a lesson to be learned. And, these lessons tend to be shared by amazing teachers.

Two of my most memorable teachers were men who I met through Vistage, my CEO group. We meet monthly and we have a world-class speaker come in at least eight times a year.

Over a dozen years ago, I met Jack Daly. Jack is a successful entrepreneur and trainer of world-class sales people. I’ve had him come to Frieda’s to do training several times over the years and he always teaches us something amazing.

Jack Daly speaking to our Sales Team at Frieda's.

From left to right: Alex (my daughter), Jack Daly and me.
He is also a bit neurotic. Jack sent me his list of goals (a.k.a. his Bucket List) and it is six pages long, including:
  • Golf the top 100 courses in the United States. (I’m sure he’s done at least 50.) 
  • Run a marathon in every state. (I think he’s done at least 25 SO FAR.) 
  • Travel to every continent. 
  • Meet a sitting president. 
  • Give 25 percent of his estate to charity. 
He has 120 items on his bucket list, and he has already achieved 79.

But, the biggest lesson he taught me is his mantra for the No. 1 rule of selling:

Ask questions and listen. 

Because of Jack, I resist the temptation to start any conversation with anything but a question. It might be, “What are your plans for this weekend?” Or, “What did you think of that speaker?” So, thanks to Jack, I learn something interesting about everyone I meet.

My other remarkable teacher is Boaz Rauchwerger, who spoke to my Vistage Group about 10 years ago. You can read about him here. He, too, talked about asking questions.

My favorite questions from him are: “Where are you from, originally?” and “Tell me about your family.” No matter whom I meet, and what the circumstances are, those two questions open doors.

Asking questions makes the other person feel important. It engages them in the conversation, and opens them up to whatever your eventual agenda might be.

This past month, I have met with clients, friends, strangers and family. I always think of Jack and Boaz and the lessons they taught me.

Next time you are at a meeting, an appointment, or making a presentation, start with a question. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Karen

1 comment:

  1. What a beautifully written post, Karen, you are an artful storyteller -- and oh so right. Listening first, not talking, is the most important skill for communicators of all types (including sales and marketers, PR types and even issue/crisis managers). It takes discipline and practice, as it is often counter to communicators' nature.

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