What Type of Questioner Are You?

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

We all ask questions. And when we ask the right way – and ask the right questions – we normally can get the best and right answers.

J. Douglas Edwards, a master sales trainer from years ago, now deceased, said: “Questions ARE the answers.” And we so agree with him. To get the right answers we need to ask the right questions and in the right ‘mode.’ And there are various types of questioning techniques.

It’s like your mother said, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Telephone Doctor has defined several questioning techniques to help you get the right answers.

Every salesperson knows that, as Mr. Edwards said, questions ARE the answers. As salespeople we are taught to ask questions, to talk less and listen more. One of the best ways to listen more is to ask good questions.

From “Do you have the correct time?” to “Where did you go on your vacation?” asking questions can be the key to your success. Let’s go over them now. Which type of questioner are you?

  1. The Open-Ended Question – These are questions without a fixed limit. They are questions that encourage continued conversation and help you get more information. They’re used to get people to open up and talk. Most, not all, but most open ended questions will start with one of these words: Who, What, Where, Why, When and How. I say most, not all, because while these are well known words to begin open-ended questions, they can still get you one-word answers. So while not perfect, open-ended questions will normally get you much more information.
  2. Closed-Ended Questions – Conversely, closed-ended questions do have a fixed limit. They’re often answered with a yes or no or a simple statement of fact. Closed-ended questions are usually used to direct the conversation, to get brief specific information or to confirm facts.The next time you watch a movie that has a trial scene, you’ll see lawyers using open and closed-ended questions, at the right time, to get the answers they need/want. Pay attention to how they use them.
  3. Probing Questions – These are normally used after an open-ended question to get yet more information. And that’s because we sometimes ask an open-ended question and we only get part of what we need. So it’s more of a follow up to get more information.Probing questions can start off with, “Tell me more about ” Example: After you have asked, “Where did you go on your vacation?” And the customer says: “Disney World.” The probing question would be: “Tell me more about Disney World.” Probing questions are valuable in getting to the heart of the matter.

    Often times you need to offer “aided recall’ to help the customer along. Aided recall is part of probing. Something like: “Does the message on the screen say error, reboot or does it just freeze up?” These types of questions are helpful to the customer and will lead you to the right answer.

  4. The Echo Question – This doesn’t mean you repeat the question 50 times, but it does mean you take all or part of the statement the customer made, repeat it once, and turn it into a question. Like this:Customer: I didn’t get the right information!

    You: You didn’t get the right information?

    Customer: That’s correct. I needed all 4 pages and only got 2.

    See? By using the echo question the customer gave you ‘more’ information. Good technique.

  5. Leading Questions – These are the fun and favorite types of questions by salespeople. They’re often called “tie downs.” They’re used to cement the information in your favor. They’re short phrases used after a statement of fact. They invite agreement and help the customer to say, “YES.”Like this: “You’ll want to see both islands, won’t you?” or “After 10 years it’s time to get new carpeting, isn’t it?”

    Leading questions are useful in helping someone who’s undecided make the right decision.

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