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What do great Sports Writers and successful Business people have in common?

Drunk and lonely guy sitting at a table

… the ability to ask good questions in a conversational way.

make a good first impression











Here is a situation …

You have the opportunity to speak to a really important prospect, a person you’ve been trying to arrange a meeting with for ages.  Now, mostly by good networking and a little luck, you are in the same room and anxious to make a good impression.

So how do you do that?

Start the meeting by asking questions that engage the prospect in a conversation?

This was done brilliantly recently (09/02/17) in an interview Michael Bamberger ( had with Rory McIlroy who is currently injured and not competing.

Here are some of the great questions Michael asked Rory …

  • Are you watching golf on TV?
  • What did you make of the Super Bowl?
  • What did you think of Lady Gaga?
  • Do you believe that golf undresses a man?
  • How have your feelings for the game changed as you’ve gone from boy to man, and from amateur to professional?
  • What new person in your life has made biggest impact on your on-course life?  And your off-course life?
  • When and where have you been happiest on the golf course when you were not playing in a professional tournament?
  • What was it that made that occasion so special?

(Note how the questions become more informative about Rory’s values as the interview progresses.)

What I usually hear when I start working with a client, goes something like this …

”We’re the biggest, the best, the most environmentally friendly, we support equality, we’re the most technologically advanced, we focus on our clients’ needs etc.”

These are all claims about your organisation and nothing about the prospect!  (BORING)

Does this sound familiar?

I believe business meetings can often be like bad first dates!

A bad first date is where the person on the other side of the dinner table spends the whole evening telling you how great they are!

When this happens, are you likely to go on another date with this person?  I doubt it.

You should think of your prospect meeting as a date you would like to go well.

How do you plan/prepare in order to enjoy a positive outcome?

Step one:

How much do you know about your prospect(s)?

Do as much research as possible about the organisation and the individuals attending the meeting.

Step two:

Prepare open-ended questions to engage your audience in a conversation about their issues.

This part of the meeting should be allocated the majority of the available time. You will find out during this conversation, how you can help address identified problems, allowing you to tailor your offer around a prospect’s needs.

I have no doubt a successful outcome for this type of meeting would involve sending a proposal to your potential customer.

A great proposal says to a prospect –

“I understand your problem better than anybody else and I have a tried and trusted solution”.

If you follow my advice and have a conversation, one that asks engaging questions of the prospect, it’s more likely to lead to a winning proposal.

My challenge to you is prepare four or five questions that will kick start a rewarding conversation with your prospect.

My clients often find this the most challenging and rewarding aspect of our work together.

If you would like some help in this area, please make contact and we can explore what questions would work best for you and your organisation?

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