Have you ever felt that a buyer was just not that into you? In businesses where the relationship between the buyer and seller is important, it is smarter to focus on that relationship than on the product.

Here are three ways to go from repelling prospects to attracting them and making them want to buy:

Research diligently before meeting a prospect. Research potential prospects even if you don’t know when you’ll meet them. The more you know, the better the conversation will go. Today, no matter who your prospect is, it is easy to conduct research online. If a prospect has put information online, it is there for you to find. It’s not violating personal space when you research people online; it’s smart.

Ask big questions. If you have researched, you will be prepared to ask good, insightful questions that will engage prospects. The key to engagement is interaction and that happens most successfully when they are talking, not you. Most people are focused on themselves and are more than ready to talk about themselves and their products.

Ask big questions such as, “I know your business has received a lot of awards. What was the most meaningful one to you?” Or, “What’s your biggest challenge?” Or, “What is the one thing you wished your current provider/firm/advisor would do?” The key is to ask an open-ended question that can really get the prospect talking.

Listen curiously to more than 50 percent of each conversation. If the interaction is focused on asking big questions and listening, you will immediately stand out. If you can get the prospect talking, you actually make yourself unique, someone who is interested in them. The average person’s attention span is 17 seconds. These days, the ability to listen intently to another person is rare. Do this and you will tell your prospect more about who you are than if you monopolize the conversation.

With this approach, you can get others to pay attention to you the way you pay attention to them and turn a disinterested party into celebrated friend.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.