Seven Keys to Great Sales Questions

Last Updated Apr 11, 2008 8:01 AM EDT

Questions for Customers
You can't understand a prospect's true needs and desires without asking the right questions during your sales calls. Here are the seven keys to productive "information gathering" when you're speaking with a prospect:
  1. Plan the conversation. If you don't know what questions to ask, you won't discover... anything useful.
  2. Rehearse the conversation. Effective questioning requires the three "P's": practice, practice, practice.
  3. Relax during the conversation. Questions must flow naturally out of the conversation, not inserted as interruptions.
  4. Lead with open questions. Better to ask a leading question that's too general than one that solicits a one word answer.
  5. Shut your trap. During a sales call, your mouth should be moving less than half the time, at most.
  6. Listen; really listen. Listening, not asking, is the most important element of effective questioning.
  7. Don't rush the process. Effective questioning is 90 percent patience and only 10 percent chutzpah.
The above list is adapted from a conversation I had recently with Wayne Turmel, who's held several positions with top sales training firms and wrote a couple of books on sales training. He's also host of one of the world's most successful business podcasts, The Cranky Middle Manager Show. It's worth a listen.