Friday, February 27, 2009

Sales Lessons From A Panhandler

The other day I was talking with my friend about a recent trip he took to New York City. He started telling me this story about walking down the street and getting stopped by a gentleman that asked him a simple question, "Do you know where Carnegie Hall is?"

"No," said my friend, "I'm not from around here."

The man grinned, then asked, "I'm not from here either. I need to go to Carnegie Hall and meet a friend. By the way, can you spare a dollar. I'm down on my luck and really need a good meal."

Ah, engagement. I'm not sure how honest this panhandler was, but he engaged engaged my friend with questions in order to help his cause, getting a dollar. You see, if he just comes up and asked for a dollar, he seems too forward and pushy. If he asks a question, he starts to build some rapport. Asking questions builds a bond. He wanted to make my friend feel he was helping.

It's a great lesson for sales pros. Asking questions helps build rapport. Start asking questions of prospects and keep asking questions. When you feel you've asked too many questions, ask more.

By the way, my friend gave the man a few dollars.

--Ron Ameln, SBM