Dale Carnegie said it in his best sell - ing book written in 1936, “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” and what he said couldn’t be any truer today: “Find Want,” he wrote.

Yes, that is the secret, and it is so simple to do, but so few salespeople do it. Find out what people want. The only way to do that is to ask questions and listen to their answer.

Did you hear me? I said just ask ques - tions. That means quit the pitching, awardwinning presentations and all the spewing out of wonderful product knowledge that you have memorized. The customer doesn’t care.

They are concerned with what is impor - tant to them. So many salespeople think that the more they talk, the more they will sell. It is the complete opposite — the more ques - tions they ask, the more they will find out. The more they listen, the more they will sell.

Sales is pretty simple when you break it down to its core. Don’t tell — ask.

The more questions you ask, the more you will find out what the customer is interested in and what they are not interested in. You will find out their past buying history and what they might possibly want in the present and future.

This is just common sense. Salespeople try so hard to be something that is just not that admirable. You don’t have to be a slick, fast-talking, smooth operator or even a snazzy dresser. Just be concerned, curious and, above all, empathetic to the customer.

A real key component of a professional salesperson is the amount of questions they ask, and what information they walk away with.

Sometimes, it is best to tell the customer no if they really do not need your product or service. That also means being honest — another great attribute of a top salesperson.

Are you wondering what kind of questions you should ask? My answer: as many as you can think of. Here are some thoughts to get you started:

•What is their decision-making level? Do they have the authority to buy?

•What have they bought in the past and why?

•Are they happy with their current ven - dor? If so, why. If not, why?

•Who was their previous vendor and why did they switch?

•What would they change about their current vendor and why?

•What is important to them and their company?

Those are just a few examples of some basic and important questions that should be presented to a customer.

I don’t care what order they are asked in, or even how you ask the questions. You just have to be real sincere, show that you do truly care, and try to come across as the “doctor” of your product or service.

Salespeople try so hard to be something that is just not that admirable. You don’t have to be a slick, fast-talking, smooth operator or even a snazzy dresser. Just be con - cerned, curious and, above all, empathetic to the customer.

We all know that the doctor’s job is to ask questions to find out about what might be wrong before giving any sort of diagnosis. A good rule of thumb is that you ask questions at least 70 percent of the time and talk no more than 30 percent during your interview or sales session with the customer.

This is not something that will come easy to you the first time. It takes practice, and the more you practice, the better you will get. As time goes on, you will find yourself at ease asking questions, which means you are beginning to understand the science of selling. This is much better than just selling the way you think is best. This will eventual - ly fall into your personal life as well, and you will find yourself finding more out about people, whether they are your cowork - ers, friends, and even family members.

People love to talk. The best way to get them to do that is to ask questions and then listen. Remember, your goal is not to sell everybody. Instead, it should be finding out what everybody wants and what they are looking for so you can make them happier or more productive.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of two best selling books, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s book on negotiating is titled “Get What You Want!” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.