In my last post I talked about how questions are a key to good sales results. Even when you are asking questions, you want to make sure your questions are getting your prospect to open up and talk to you. That’s why knowing the difference between open and closed ended questions cam make the difference between having a good conversation with your client or a bad one.
What Are Open and Closed Ended Questions?
What are open and closed ended questions? Open ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a one or two word response. Typically open ended questions begin with “Why” or “How.” You can also use open ended probes. Open ended probes are statements, usually in the command form, that require and expanded answer. “Tell me about your production process” is an example of an open ended probe. Closed ended questions require a specific usually short answer. An example a closed in question is ‘What time do you start production?” Open ended questions are best used to start a conversation or topic. Then use closed in questions to get to specific details.
Allow Prospect Time To Respond
It is important to remember that your prospect will need more time to respond to an open ended question because they will probably need to think through their response. Remain silent while your prospect is thinking about the response. I have seen over and over where sales people take a great open ended question and then before the prospect can respond, ask another question that’s closed ended. It goes like this… You ask “how does the production process work?” This is a great open ended question. But before the prospect can reply, you ask “Is the production fast?” This is a closed ended question and usually your prospect is going to answer the last question you ask. Your prospect probably would have told you if the production was fast or slow if they had had a chance to respond to your first open ended question. So all you have to do is ask your open ended question and just be quiet to let your prospect respond.
To prepare for a sales call, write down a few open ended questions you want to ask your prospect. This pre-call preparation will pay huge dividends in the long run. Also, practice using open ended questions and probes as part of your everyday life. As opposed to asking: “Are you having a good day?” Probe by saying: “Tell me what’s going good or not so good for you today.” You can see that the person you are talking with will probably give a different response to the open ended probe.
You can get more insight into asking questions in my recoding “The Answer Is In The Question.” This is valuable sales training and it is FREE. Just got to http://www.andreboykin.com/trainingtools.php to get your copy!