Are We Asking the Right Questions?


Excerpt from, Are We Asking the Right Questions?,” by Leon Neyfakh:

Adults tend to rush through those steps, perhaps because they seem like second nature. But figuring out what makes a good question—or rather, what kind of question will get us the information we want—isn’t such a simple thing, even for grownups. It requires stopping to think about what we’re trying to find out, what the person we’re talking to might know, and what words we should use to coax them into helping us.”  (Full article:http://articles.boston.com/2012-05-20/ideas/31749763_1_questions-zero-answers-doctors.)

I LOVE this article for two reasons.  The first being I am a parent of a 14-year-old son that is constantly asking probing questions…..but why!…..kind of stuff.  Ok, I would be lying if I didn’t say there were times when it annoyed the crud out of me, but I am also quite impressed when he asks me deep, thought-provoking ones.  The “now ya got me thinking myself” kinds of questions.  He has such an incredible thirst for learning and understanding.  Why don’t I?  Am I just burnt out or don’t have the bandwidth to dig into the why’s of stuff anymore? Maybe Phil McKinney was right.  In the article he says, “…as adults, we lose our curiosity over time. We get into ruts, we become experts in our fields or endeavors.”  

The other reason I love this article is it ties into my business.  The business of asking the RIGHT questions.  The business of asking thought-provoking and  targeted questions…that help me uncover valuable information that will prove useful throughout the sales cycle when working with a prospective client.  The art of asking questions as a “sales” adult can also get rusty.  We too can get into ruts…”I know exactly what this guys needs…been there…done that.”

I’ve been in two sales situations recently where I’ve sat in my car and looked at my notes and asked myself….am I prepared to  ask the right questions? The answer has been no both times.  Shame on me.  When I train clients on better sales skills I always say, “Plan sales calls carefully in advance and know the objective for each call….or just stay in the car!”  Both times I did just that.  I didn’t get out of the car until I felt I had crafted good strategic questions.  One’s that would tee-up the discussion and drive follow-up questions that would better clarify what the prospects REAL needs were.  In our Customer-Focused Sellingprogram we talk quite a bit about strategic questioning.  Questions designed to draw useful, detailed information from the prospect/client that will help in position the value of your products and services effectively in order to gain agreement in the sales process.

Examples:

  • Describe to me what you are hoping to see as a result of…
  • Explain what it is that you are looking to accomplish with…
  • Tell me about your competitive pressures…
  • Help me understand your internal; process on this…
  • Describe how this project fits within your overall corporate objectives…
  • Share with me how you envision this implementation…

Make today the day you become a student of asking better questions again.  Embrace the inner kid in you and start asking the RIGHT questions!

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