Questions for Building Common Ground

Tom Hopkins 12-17

Since I teach the importance of establishing common ground with potential clients, I’m often asked for suggestions of topics. Because of that, I’ve generated a simple list of questions for building common ground to share. Use whatever is appropriate for your type of sales situation or simply use these questions as models for developing your own.

Here are a few subjects to give you an idea of how building common ground can begin.

Job Related:

  • Tell me a bit about your job.
  • Tell me what you do for a living.
  • What’s your occupation?
  • What do you like most/least about your work?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What’s the most interesting part of your job?
  • What gives you the greatest amount of satisfaction at work?

Child Related:

  • Do you have any kids?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What are their names?
  • How old are they?
  • I bet you’re proud of him/her/them.
  • What interests are they developing?
  • What do they do for fun?

Family Related:

  • Are you married? 
  • Been married long?
  • Where do you folks live?
  • Did you go on a honeymoon? Oh, where?
  • Where does he/she work?
  • What do you folks do for recreation?
  • Do you share any hobbies?

Location Related:

  • Are you from around here?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you like most about living in your town?
  • Have you traveled much?
  • What is the most fun thing to do in your area?
  • What three things would you recommend a tourist to see first?

All of this information isn’t gathered just to be discarded. You’ll use much of it later in the sales process. I could go on and on with this, but you get the idea. You want to be friendly and to encourage the other person to be friendly. Don’t treat these questions as a checklist you have to march through like Sherman to the sea during the Civil War. Your goal is conversation not conquest.

Also, avoid the trap of droning on about any given subject. Getting overly involved in the topic of conversation will cut out valuable time you’ll need for getting down to business and making your presentation. Just find the commonality. Establish it. Make sure your customer is comfortable with it. And at the appropriate moment, move on.


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