I have a podcast.
You might have heard of it. Or listened to it. Our 1000th episode is less than 3 weeks away.
My podcast stands out in a crowded space because of the quality of the conversations I have with my guests on the show.
The quality of those conversations is derived from my curiosity and my preparation.
The vast majority of the conversations I’ve had on my podcast have been with strangers; people I did not know prior to talking with them on my podcast.
Each conversation has a common goal: I want to learn about them. I want to learn from them. I want you to learn from them.
Which means I’ve had to ask great questions to trigger productive conversations. In order to do that, I’ve had to prepare.
I do my research on each guest. I check out their LinkedIn profile. Especially their activity. If they write a blog, I read the blog. If they’ve been on a podcast, I try to listen to at least part of it. If they’ve written a book, I read their book.
Most importantly, I think about what I want to learn and what I want my listeners to learn from my guest. I also prepare for the unanticipated. Based on my research I have an idea about which way the conversation will go. However, I also go through a series of “what-ifs.” What if the conversation veers into a new area? What questions should I ask then?
I take my research and the “what-ifs” and typically write down anywhere from 30 to 50 questions to ask the guest. For a 45 minute conversation.
How did I learn how to prepare for a great podcast interview? By being a curious and prepared salesperson. I’ve just carried the discipline I’ve had as a seller over to my interviews: connecting with a stranger, being curious about them as a human and asking the extra question(s) to make sure I understand their point of view.
So, when you have a conversation with a buyer, does your curiosity extend just to the point of asking your standard list of questions? Or have you truly prepared beforehand and developed a set of questions specifically for this buyer? Are you just winging it based on past experience? Or have you prepared for the unexpected as well?
Here’s an informal metric to consider in your preparation for a sales conversation. How many of your prepared questions are questions that you’ve never asked a buyer before? How many are questions that are unique to this buyer and their situation and are based on the research you’ve done?
Here’s another metric to think about. How much time do you spend preparing for a sales conversation? Are you just going from call to call on auto-pilot, making the same pitch and asking the same rote questions?
Answer this question for yourself. How big does an opportunity have to be for you to invest 30 minutes to prepare for a conversation with the buyer? How big for 60 minutes?
If you want to tilt the playing field in your favor, you can never be too curious or too prepared.
Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.