When you're trying to do business with someone in a way where ultimately you'd like him or her to purchase something from you, there is a little secret you can use to vastly improve your success rate. It all comes down to following a simple sequence: tell, ask, connect, and talk business or TACT.

Let me explain.

Tell

Your first objective is to help you potential customer get to know you. While that might sound simple and straightforward, it can be a lost art in this digital age. Your goal should be to share some personal information about yourself in a conversational way that helps the other person get to know you on a deeper level. Maybe it's sharing where you went to school, or what your favorite book or movie might be. Make it authentic and representative of something you actually care about. Having a self-deprecating sense of humor is really effective here.

(One caveat here is that this works best in the U.S., as other international cultures are not so quick to share personal information.)

Ask

Your second step is to ask them questions about their own lives or interests. This is something you can actually approach with a system called how to talk to anybody about anything that top interviewers like Barbara Walter use where you can ask someone questions in five different categories:

1. Ask them about their family or children.

2. Ask the about a book they have read recently.

3. Ask about their hobbies.

4. Ask about any travel they have done recently.

5. Ask them what vacation plans they might have coming up.

The catch is that you actually have to be genuinely interested both in asking these questions - and in listening to the answers you get back. Don't ask and then return to Candy Crush on your phone. Because that ties to the next step...

Connect

... Which is to find a common connection with your potential customer, based on something you both share in common. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can find these common threads, which could range from having kids of the same age, attending the same school, or having a shared interest in a particular area of the world to visit.

Making these connections is absolutely vital in building trust and a bond with people - without which they will have much less interest in actually becoming your customer.

A recent example was a conversation I had with a potential client in Connecticut where I used to live and help run a golf tournament. Once I disclosed this, it turned out that his firm had sponsored the tournament for many years. It was an instant connection.

Talk Business

If you can develop great connections with people by first sharing and then asking through genuine conversation and active listening to find connections, you will increase your chances of successfully selling something by an order of magnitude. That's because people don't like to buy from anyone they don't know or trust. Just remember TACT - Tell - Ask - Connect - Talk

We all the know the person who jumps ahead in this sequence and just goes straight to their sale pitch without bothering to make the time to find a connection.

Sure, we might be willing to buy something on a very transactional basis from someone you don't know on the street or online. But if you're trying to develop the kinds of relationships that lead to years of repeat business and lifetime customers, then following this secret will pay off big time.