Good salespeople ask a lot of questions, but the most effective salespeople ask their questions and get out of the way. I was reminded of this in a recent post shared on LinkedIn Pulse. The article was comparing two interviews with the same newsmaker (billionaire Elon Musk championing the colonization of Mars) and demonstrated how one interview was clearly more insightful than the other. The key difference was how they asked the questions.
The founder of Digg followed every question with a list of possible answers. This type of questioning may demonstrate your knowledge, but it also tends to lead to simple yes or no answers. The veteran PBS/CBS host asked open-ended questions. Since interviews are like a sales needs analysis it won’t surprise you that the open-ended questions yielded more insightful results. Then why is the style of providing a choice of answers too early in the process all too familiar?
“Speech is silver, silence is golden.” – Ancient Proverb
Many salespeople are uncomfortable with that awkward moment of silence that results after open-ended questions. But that moment of silence allows time for new insights to come forward. Curious salespeople are willing to trust that moment of silence, rather than rush to fill the void.
Curious salespeople ask the best questions because they understand that open ended-questions early in the needs analysis can lead to brainstorming better solutions. Sales managers take note and observe your salespeople in the field and coach them to develop their natural curiosity and to ask their questions and then get of the way.
Improve your next client needs analysis by learning more about The Art of Asking Questions.