Open-ended questions (questions that are answered by more than a simple yes or no) are wonderful for gathering information, qualifying opportunities, and establishing rapport, trust and credibility.
Ask the question and let the other person give you their answer.
No interrupting. (You can do it.)
Below are 30 to get you started. When you have a moment, invest some time in creating a few that are specific to your industry. Memorize your favorites and practice delivering them with a colleague or a small group (especially before any upcoming events or tradeshows).
How did you get involved in… ?
Who helped you get involved in…?
What were you doing previously?
What [did, do] you enjoy most about that?
What is the best thing you learned from that?
Where have you learned the most about…?
Who taught you the most about…?
What did you take away from the experience?
How has that impacted you?
What [was, is] the biggest challenge with that?
What advice would you give someone else about that?
What are your thoughts on…?
How did your company get involved in…?
What kind of challenges are you and your company facing?
What’s the most important priority to you and your company right now?
How have you been handling that?
How is that working out?
What effect has that had on you/ your company?
How did you overcome that?
How does that process work now?
What challenges does that process create?
What are the best things about that process?
What does everyone else at your company think about that?
With whom have you had the most success in the past?
What innovative [products, services] has your company introduced over the last couple years?
What does that mean?
How do you mean?
How do you see that working?
What concerns do you have about…?
What other events have you found helpful to attend?
(remember: no leading … no prompting … no interrupting … seriously.)