The Surprising Power of Questions

I ran across this article written by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John in the HBR’ 10 Must Reads 2020

The original article was posted in 2018 and you can click here to read it.

Some of the key points in the HBR article.

  • The type, tone, sequence, and framing of questions also matter
  • There are four types of questions: introductory, mirror, full-switch, and follow-up
  • Know when to keep questions open-ended (because nobody likes to feel interrogated)
  • Conversational goals matter
  • Conversational goals differ from when we are asking or answering
  • Get the sequence of the questions right
  • Use the right tone
  • Pay attention to the group
  • The best response
  • Deciding what to share
  • Deciding what to keep private

I recommend the read and of course the book.

Sales Impact of Questions

There’s also a mention on page 9 about finding out a few interesting things about sales calls from a large data set of over 500,000 conversations.

  • Top performers tend to scatter questions throughout the sales call
  • Lower performers front load questions.

Both sources point out the importance of not making the other person feel like they’re being interrogated.

They were able to identify the optimal number of sales questions before a diminishing return.

What is the optimal number of sales questions?

Can you guess what the number was?

You can find the answer to that in our first survey of The Thrive Club here

If you’re not yet a member of The Thrive Club join now. It is free to the first 1000 people.

My thoughts and opinions

I think and feel one of the biggest business growth mistakes we make is not understanding when a conversation is a marketing one versus sales.

They really are two types of conversations.

The marketing conversation is about explaining who we are and what we do. The main target of that conversation is simply to spark interest. Is this person interested in what we have to offer? Yes, no, maybe? Those tend to be the three outcomes.

The sales conversation is about finding out can they afford our product/service? If yes, then we can go deeper. If not, then why are we talking to them? If they can afford us – are they ready to buy? Do they have questions prior to a purchase? And are they a healthy customer for us?

What are your thoughts and opinions on the topic?