Ask The Right Questions

August 1, 2011

Do you walk away from conversations feeling like you learned no new information? Do you ever feel like people are just telling you what you want to hear? Maybe your sales are starting to dwindle. These are just some of the consequences of asking the wrong questions.

In most conversations, you have only a short time to communicate, especially in a sales situation. Every question counts, the more concisely you communicate, the more effective you will be in all your pursuits. So, what are the right questions?

Open Ended Questions

Closed-ended questions can be answered with a yes or no, or suggest a solution that the other person can simply buy into, or not. Open-ended questions allow for any response. By asking open-ended questions, you can learn about someone’s concerns or motivations. Consider the following two questions.

“We’ve been through all the details, are you ready to move forward with the transaction?”

“We’ve been through all the details, how are you feeling about moving forward?”

The first questions is the wrong question; it is the example of a closed-ended question and invites either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. The problem is different things can motivate either answer without giving any additional information about the other person’s perspective. If you receive a no, you are now forced to ask additional questions to figure out what concerns are holding them back.

If you ask the right question, the open-ended version, either answer will provide you with enough information to build on. You can address the concerns leading to a ‘no’ and you can emphasize the positives leading to a ‘yes.’

Open-ended questions invite the person to give you the information you are looking for, while closed-ended questions ask for a negative or positive opinion about what you were thinking.

Here are some examples of open and closed-ended questions.

Wrong: “Can we go to a movie tonight?”

Right: “I was thinking we could go to a movie, what do you want to do tonight?”

Right: “How are you feeling about this situation?”

Wrong: “Are you happy with this situation?”

Wrong: “Are you okay with doing the presentation?”

Right: “How would you like to contribute to the presentation?”

Ask the right questions to improve your communication in every aspect of your life.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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