Asking The Right Questions Is Critical

QUESTION:  Whether you are in sales, marketing, customer service, consulting or management role, the power of learning to ask open and closed ended questions properly is paramount to your success.
RESPONSE:  Open-ended questions are those designed to solicit additional information from the person being questioned.  This type of question is broader in scope and prompts the receiver to use more than one or two word responses.  They are designed to avoid leading, controlling or manipulating the responder. 
Open-ended questioning provides an opportunity for a wide-range of responses and gives the person answering the question an opportunity share opinions, perspectives and details in an unstructured manner.  Although they can be more time consuming to utilize, open-ended questions are often perceived by the receiver as less limiting and/or intimidating. 
Closed-ended questions on the other hand are those which can be answered in a finite manner, often by using either a “yes” or a “no.  ”These questions are typically restrictive by nature. Close-ended questions can be useful in validating or confirming a fact or event.  And this is an extremely efficient and timely way to get an answer.The intrinsic downsides of close-ended questions include;  
  • the risk of receiving an incomplete response
  • they can limit the responders ability to respond thoroughly
  • they can be leading
  • they can result in misleading assumptions or conclusions
Two examples might be: 
  • Open-ended:  “What do you see as most beneficial to you from the information I have just provided you?”
  • Close-ended:“Does that sound pretty good?”  
 And at all costs ladies and gentlemen I strongly encourage you to stop using the phrase, “what do you think.”  In my humble opinion, this is the most over utilized meaningless question in the English language, unless you really don’t want a true and complete answer.  When people ask me that, I now have a stock answer, “I think I need to think about this.”  This then allows me to end the conversation or interview. 
Get your respondents interested in you, your service/product and get them involved in the conversation so how to respond in kind.  Answers to your questions give you information.  Information gives you knowledge.  Knowledge gives you the power to perform or respond in a professional manner.  Believe me when I tell you this works when dealing with customers, peers, direct reports, management or prospective clients or your family.
 In all of my seminars I always ask the attendees; “What is a sales person’s most powerful tool?”  Answer is his/her mouth.  Then I ask, “What is a sales person’s greatest liability?  ”Answer is his/her mouth.  Learn to ask questions properly, then zip your lips shut and patiently give the professional courtesy to the responder to respond accordingly and without interruptions.  More than one sales person has “blown a sale” because they don’t know when to shut their mouth and listen.
As always, please accept my wishes for a tremendous week.   If I can be of assistance to you or your organization when it comes to revenue growth, retention or recruiting, please call or write and I will respond immediately!
George F. Mancuso, CPC

A Highly Specialized Business Consultancy  
In The Growth of Revenues And People