You’ve probably heard that being a good listener is the key to being successful in sales.

While I agree that that’s essential, I’m here to tell you that your ability to ask good sales questions is even more important.

Why is that? Let me give you a little bit of scientific fact: Your brain is unable to do two things simultaneously. It can either listen or it can formulate questions. Not both, just one.

So, if you’re just listening, that’s nice—clearly your prospect is being heard.

But if you’re not asking the right questions, all you’re going to get is gobbledygook, meaningless drivel that builds relationships but doesn’t advance the sales process.

The only way that you’re going to have a valuable sales conversation—for both you and your prospect—is to plan your questions ahead of time.

Think about what you can ask that will get your prospect talking about her situation. What are her issues? What are her challenges?

Think about questions that might provoke your clients into thinking about things they haven’t considered before. Ask questions to determine whether making a change makes good sense for them.

Then write everything down. That way, when you actually do meet, you can say “In preparation for today’s meeting, I wrote down a few questions.” And then you can relax and listen to the answers.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.