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Three Secrets for Getting People to Open Up

We can learn a lot from expert interviewers in other professions.

Peter Kessler is probably one of the best interviewers I have ever seen or heard. He was on The Golf Channel a few years ago, and now does a golf show on XM satellite radio

His ability to get guests to open up, help them feel at ease, and say things they’ve never said before is uncanny.

Questioning is the foundation of sales, and Peter Kessler is a master. In a "Golf Digest" magazine interview, Kessler was asked what he did to prepare for his TV show before The Golf Channel went on the air in 1995.

He said he watched other interview shows, including tapes of old ones. In one show with Tom Snyder from the Tomorrow program, he said he was able to gather ALL of the rules he would follow.

Snyder was interviewing Paul Newman. He started by saying to Newman, "Tell me how you broke into film."

Kessler thought to himself, "What a good question."

Newman replied by saying, "Well, in 1947…"

That’s as far as he got before Snyder broke in with, "I’ve got to interrupt you and tell you how I broke into radio."

Kessler said he went crazy, wanting to throw things at the TV. He realized that he, and most of the audience, wasn’t interested in how Snyder got into radio. They wanted Newman’s answer! 

So, Peter Kessler wrote down these three rules. And they’re good rules to follow in our own sales questioning. (My comments are after each.)

1. Don’t interrupt the guest.
What they have to say is much more important that what you have. You’re questioning to get information from them, right? Ask a question, then shut up. And pause after you think they have finished–they might continue with even better information.

2. Never say "I."
The focus is on THEM during this part of the call. Instead of "I, "me," and "my," use "you" and "your."

3. Never talk about yourself.

You will never learn anything by talking. Especially about yourself. When you analyze it, it is quite ludicrous to think about a salesperson talking about himself during the fact-finding part of the call. The only way we can effectively sell is by learning about them.

Be aware of these three simple points this week in your own questioning. Also make a note to observe the styles of other interviewers on the radio and TV to see if they follow these rules.

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