Mastering the Art of Asking Questions is essential if you want to succeed. It's not simply a matter of getting in the habit of utilizing questions in your interactions with people. It's really about learning how to ask the right questions at the right time.
Whether you're having sales conversations, coaching conversations, or working to develop others, learning how to ask good questions can be the difference between success and failure. What does asking the right questions at the right time mean? It means asking questions in such a way as to better understand the other person, their needs, and their motivations.
Since the questions asked and the flow of an effective conversation varies from person to person and from situation to situation, the best way to illustrate the Art of Asking Questions is by way of example.
Here is a sample sales conversation, conducted by someone not skilled at the Art of Asking Questions:
Hi Bob, I'm calling about the great widgets my company sells. Do you have a few minutes to speak?
Great! Are you familiar with our brand?
"No, not really."
We offer widgets that solve a number of problems and have some great features. The new V210 - our mid-grade model - consumes 20% less energy than our competition and is 10% smaller. It comes in three different colors - red, black and white. Can I schedule a time with you to come by and show it to you?
"What's the price?"
It normally sells for $199, but I can offer it to you at a 25% discount - only $149.
"Do you have something you can send me?" Sure... what address should I send it to?
"123 Main St."
Great! I'll give you a follow-up call in about a week. OK?
"Yes, that would be fine."
If you've been in sales, you already know the outcome of that conversation. The likelihood of closing a sale is slim and the salesperson will no doubt continue to try to reach the prospect again until they get discouraged and give up.
The next example is the same conversation conducted by someone who is better skilled at the Art of Asking Questions, but is not quite there yet:
Hi Bob, my company helps companies like yours solve their widget problems. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
Do you currently use widgets in your business?
"Yes, we do."
Have you been pleased with the ones you have?
"Well, for the most part we are, but nothing's perfect."
The newer design of widgets have a number of improvements over older models. Would you like to hear more about some of the improvements?
Well, feature 1... , feature 2..., feature 3... We have a number of different models available. Do you have a budget in mind?
"Well, we haven't been actively looking up until now. Can you send me some information?" I'd rather come by and show you first-hand so you can really see what I'm talking about. Which would be better for you, Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon?
"How about Tuesday morning."
Great! I'll see you Tuesday morning then!
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