The questions you ask during the sales process matter. You can dramatically change the trajectory of the conversation by asking open-ended questions. 

The idea is to begin to build rapport and trust with prospects. If you’re asking yes-or-no questions, it can feel impersonal. Instead of comfortably conversing with the other person, it begins to feel more like an interrogation.

This doesn’t mean there’s no place for yes-or-no questions – it just means open-ended questions can go much further in the discovery process.

Bill Cates, a sales expert and speaker, says there’s an art to asking open-ended questions. We highlight his thoughts in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

  1. Transform any question into an open-ended question. Cates encourages sales professionals to pay attention to the questions they ask their prospects and clients over the next few days. Reflect on whether an open-ended question would have yielded more information for both parties. When appropriate, he recommends turning some of those yes-or-no questions into open-ended questions.
  2. Follow a yes-or-no question with an open-ended one. For example, if you ask, “Did you like what I showed you in this presentation?” you could follow it up with, “If so, please tell me in what ways.”
  3. Use open-ended questions to kick off a conversation instead of reading a script. The purpose of asking these kinds of questions is to start a discussion with someone. If the conversation starts to veer off, that’s OK, Cates says, but you should know how to steer the dialogue back on topic.

Here are some open-ended questions from Cates that you might want to ask in your upcoming conversations:

  • What are the top priorities of your business at the moment?
  • What are some of the best decisions you’ve made related to X?
  • How are you feeling about your current situation related to X?
  • If we were meeting five years from today, what needs to happen for you to feel good about your business situation related to X?
  • What opportunities do you see on your horizon?
  • What challenges do you see to making those opportunities happen?
  • How will you be measuring your success related to those outcomes?
  • What’s the biggest risk of you not making progress on this situation?
  • Who all needs to be involved in making the final purchasing decision?
  • What is the motivation behind taking on this project?

Asking the right kinds of questions can take you far in sales. You can get helpful insights into prospects and their needs and end up booking more meetings.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Bill Cates is an internationally recognized keynote speaker and author.