Why customs officers would make great sales people

I read a terrific story in the Manchester Evening News about a lady who was caught smuggling drugs by eagle-eyed customs officials. Actually, it would be better to call them ‘eagle-eared’ as it was some subtle questioning that unearthed the illegal cache. It seems the lady had a set of golf clubs with her, and the customs officer asked her what her handicap was. The woman looked a bit puzzled, and replied that she was perfectly able-bodied and fully functional – not quite what the official meant of course! Suspicions were aroused by such ignorance of a common golfing term, and the woman was soon rumbled.

It struck me that this was a classic example of probing through conversational questioning, something great salespeople do in the quest for business. This kind of engagement reveals valuable information about the ‘target’ and if the questions are posed in a friendly and natural manner, you tend to get responsive answers.

So get engaged, ask great questions and listen out for the nuggets that could give you what you want.

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