Digging Deep – The Power of the Right Questions


Many salespeople invest significant time and energy refining how well they can persuade their customers in order to make a sale.  In fact, it isn’t force or charisma that convinces customers to buy – it is helping the customer be internally convinced him/herself by asking the ‘right’ questions.

What do we mean by the “right” questions? First, avoid questions that are too shallow or too broad. Asking, “What types of services do you provide?” is not only ineffective, but also insulting, because the salesperson should already know this. Also, avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer – “If the price were within your budget, would you consider our product?” These are not ‘thought-provoking’ or ‘meaningful,’ which is where you should focus:

To create a meaningful conversation with your client, try these three guidelines:

  1. Use a 1-10 scale followed by, “Tell me more:” “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not at all,” and 10 being, “very much,” how important is the value of innovation to your company?  Tell me more about that.”
  2. Ask 3 “Why” questions to probe deeper into the customer’s issue: “Why do you think your company is having this issue?” “Why do you feel that this change is problematic?” “Why is frugality such a strong value for your company?” Digging deeper can clarify the root cause of an issue or problem, which ultimately you will be able to sell to.
  3. After building trust, try a consequence question: “If your company continues to purchase replacement parts at an increasing rate, what will be the consequence or impact to your business?”

A final tip: remember that it is OK to respectfully pause your customer and say, “You just said something interesting. May I ask you a question about that?” Do this, and you will come across as a trusted advisor, who is genuinely invested in the customer’s world and the implications of what the customer wants to do. Remember – the more the sales person talks, the more the customer objects, but the more the customer talks, the more the customer will likely buy!


Think About It!