The Power of Short Questions in the Sales Process

questioning skillsThe best way to engage your prospect or customer is by asking short questions.  When you do, you will tap into opportunities that long questions will never reveal.

Short-questions are truly an amazing tool most salespeople never seem to grasp.  The vast majority of salespeople love to show how smart they are by asking long complicated questions.

Problem is that questions of that type do little to help the sales process. In fact, I’ll contend many times that they wind up harming the sales process.

Short questions are fantastic because not only are they short (and easy to remember), they also get you and the customer engaged in conversation.

One of the best short questions is one word: WHY?  Think about that for a moment.  The word “why” is designed to do one thing — get the other person to explain more.

What could be better than that?

When we ask customers long drawn out questions, we wind up losing their attention and, in turn, we many times wind up answering the question ourselves.   Now that is a recipe for disaster and yet it is exactly what happens.  As I have the opportunity to work with salespeople on sales calls across a wide number of industries, I see this happening time and time again.

Let me give you a one word response as to what I think of it: STUPID!

The sales process is about getting the customer talking. It’s not about you doing most of the talking.  How are we going to find out the customer’s needs if we’re doing all the talking?  We’re not.

Your challenge is to start reframing the questions you ask.   Develop a list of short questions you can ask.  Here are a few:

  • Why?
  • How come?
  • Can you explain more?
  • Can you tell me again why…?

This is just 4, but there are dozens more you can come up with depending on the business you’re in and your personality.

Oh, and definitely remember that every question you ask can’t be a short one.  Strive to make at least 50% of your questions short, and you’ll find yourself gathering much better information from your customers.

Copyright 2013, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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3 thoughts on “The Power of Short Questions in the Sales Process”

  1. Perfect, Generally short questions are such, they open up conversations at any situations. Ironically, today we see lots of sales personnel impatient and bothered only in driving their point of view and somehow force the prospect to commit on urgent basis

  2. Mark Hunter makes excellent recommendation to ask prospects short “open-ended” questions that include words like “Tell me,,,,” “…explain…,” “How….?” & more. Such questions help the prospect reveal his/her thoughts, needs, feelings & experiences — and that reveals to the salesperson how you can help that prospect. Thank you Mark for your highly productive recommendations on asking short, “open-ended” questions that results in growing sales.

  3. I am learning from these blogs but don’t like the fact that advice often refers to stupid salespeople. I think the same points can be made without calling people stupid. Even though they probably are.

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