"Why not just ask open ended questions?" is actually question that I frequently hear.

It’s an obvious question.

One of the first things many people learn when going into sales is the distinction between asking open versus closed questions.

Closed questions are "generally" considered "bad", because they prompt yes or no answers.

Open questions on the other hand are "generally" considered "good" because they require the other person to talk, to explain, to elaborate on something in order to answer the question.

This distinction is in fact not really an issue of which type is good, bad, or best for selling.

Both open and closed questions can be good (or bad) for selling depending on the timing of when you ask a particular type of question.

Open questions are particularly helpful in the discovery stage of the sale, the part where you are gathering information about what the prospects wants, pains, needs, and requirements are.

Closed questions can be helpful there as well though as a means of confirming your understanding of something that a prospect told you.

But the distinction between open and closed questions doesn’t really go far enough in my opinion.

Simply having a strategy of "I am going to ask a lot open ended questions on this sales call" will get the prospect talking, but it doesn’t guide them enough to a point where you can start making a sale.

The problem with such a strategy is that you tend to meander in your questioning approach. You meander because you don’t really have a destination in mind of where you are going.

I know this, because "Ask lots of open ended questions" was my strategy for sales calls for many years.

Then I discovered some better distinctions about the types of questions to ask when selling.
As I studied the psychology of what influences people, I learned that people most care about their problems and wants. A pretty obvious statement, yes. But one that slips by most of us when we get too wrapped up to persuade another of the importance of the "things" we have to sell today.

So instead of just "Ask lots of open ended questions" my strategy is now to ask people about what problems and desires they might have that I personally can help them with.

Very simple. Very easy. Very natural.

And much more effective than just meandering through a sales call hoping to find something relevant as they are elaborating on the open ended question they were asked.

In addition to this simple but powerful questioning technique I cover five more questioning techniques in my Persuasive Questioning Techniques Audio Course in my Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program. Combined together, these techniques show you how to get your prospects emotionally motivated and gain and hold complete control over every sale while your prospects enjoy being sold to by you. 

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus Brown