Search for Speakers
Trainers and Consultants
Send this article to others
For the Media
For Speakers, Trainers,
has been said that eighty-five percent of your overall career success is in
direct proportion to your ability to communicate.
I disagree. I believe that eighty-five percent of your overall
success in LIFE is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate
effectively in any given situation.
all the communication techniques you can learn and apply, one of the most effective is acquiring the habit of ASKING
QUESTIONS to uncover the ideas, wants, opinions, needs, feelings and
concerns of others.
questions is beneficial for many reasons. One obvious example is whenever
you ask people for their input it demonstrates you have a genuine interest
in THEM and CARE about what they think. Another is the answers you receive
can provide you with insights you might not otherwise discover--what your
customer thinks about your competitor, what ideas your people have to
improve productivity, or how you can dissolve conflict with a disgruntled
is why asking the RIGHT questions in the RIGHT WAY can bring you results.
Pros. . .
you're in sales, you already know the importance of asking questions to
customers to help close the sale. It gives you the opportunity to observe
their personality and body language so you'll know how to respond. Top sales
pros create and memorize a matrix of great questions to ask in their daily
interactions with customers and potential customers--"What day would be
convenient for you for us to meet?" "What's important to you about
this project?" "What questions or concerns do you have?"
"How will you measure the success of our service?" "What was
your experience with your last provider?" "If you don't mind my
asking, what is your current supplier offering you my company is not?"
Those are just a few examples of excellent questions to have memorized so to
apply in your daily interaction with customers and potential customers.
in mind, mediocre sales people talk when they should be LISTENING. Great
sales pros ask questions to get the CUSTOMER to talk. It has been said,
"You'll never listen yourself out of a customer," but you have to
ask questions first. Develop your own great questions, apply them, analyze
what works, then memorize so they are burned into your brain.
not forget to apply that basic principle from "Sales 101"--ASK for
the sale! "Do you want to
do business with me?" " Are you ready to have me write the order
and arrange shipping?" "Would you like to work with us on this
for the sale should be second nature to you. Memorizing the right questions
will help your closing ratio.
questions after the sale helps you to build strong relationships and KEEP
those customers you worked so hard to get. "How's our level of
service?" "Is there anything more I can do for you?"
"Did our technical people take good care of you?" "Did you
enjoy your experience today?" Don't forget to ask questions about them
as human beings too--"How's your golf game these days?" "How
was your daughter's wedding?" "Did you enjoy your vacation?"
"How are you feeling?"
you have any type of customer contact, here are great questions to memorize
that will help build relationships and breed customer loyalty:
"How are you today?" "How can I be of service?"
"Have I answered all your questions today?"
"Are you pleased with our level of service?" "How can
we do better?" "Is there anything more I can do for you
you are in a management position, asking questions is not only effective for
morale but vital to your company's success. The challenge you may experience
is many people won't speak up and share their thoughts, needs, challenges,
ideas and concerns, unless you ask them directly. Examples of great
questions to ask are--"What ideas do you have that can move our company
forward?" "What might be holding us back from working more
productively?" "What the complaints we get most often from our
dealers?" "How can we improve communication between
departments?" "How can we leverage vendor expertise from our
suppliers?" "What can we do to improve the level of service within
our facility?" "What can I do to make your enjoy your job
I was at a sales meeting where a new president was being introduced to the
company. The crowd was tense from not knowing what to expect from this sharp
young executive. In the first
few minutes he spoke, he immediately changed the atmosphere in the room and
broke the ice. These were his words: "Well, I'm the new kid on the
block. In the next few weeks I want to hear the answer to this question from
each and every one of you.-- What would YOU do if you were the new president
of this company?" Smart
man! He scored.
how Harley-Davidson made a fortune by asking a great question: Remember
years back when Honda was outdistancing Harley in the marketplace? They
assembled their entire work force, including assembly workers. Executives
asked, "What ideas do you have to help us outsmart this tough
competitor and gain market share?"
by one, they began to respond. "Let's take the opposite approach to
marketing and advertising from Honda." "Let's develop a clothing
line." "Let's make it a status symbol to own a Harley!"
all know what happened from there. Harley put their employees' ideas to work
and are not only Number One in the marketplace, but it's a status symbol to
own one. They credit their
success to their greatest asset--the combined brainpower of their people.
Whether you sell or offer motorcycles, equipment, testing products,
supplies, automobiles, fitness centers, or widgets, get out from behind your
desk and ask away.
matter what your job position may be often you may have to be direct to
receive answers to your questions. This is especially true when you are
interacting with a passive person or making an effort to dissolve conflict.
"John, you haven't said anything during our discussion. What are your
thoughts and opinions?" "Those
are my reasons for switching suppliers. Are you with me on this?"
"Jane, I'm sensing you aren't yet convinced we should be pursuing this
course of action. What are your concerns?" "Susan, I know we don't
always see eye to eye, and we've even butt heads a few times. I really want
to bury the hatchet and improve our relationship. What can I do to
straighten things out with you?"
you ask questions, be "YOU" conscious. "How do you
you're in a business or social setting, asking questions and being YOU
focused is not only a great communication skill, but it's also an ideal
icebreaker. Practice this skill until you have it down pat.---"How do
you like the conference?" "May I introduce myself to you?"
"How do you like the hotel?" Susan Roanne's book, "How to
Work a Room" will provide you with valuable ideas on how to maximize
contact in a large group of customers or in a social setting.
one last tip on asking questions: If you are speaking one on one, use the
person's name when you ask your question. This may seem simplistic to you,
but it cannot be ignored for it makes the receiver feel important.
"Joe, I'd like to discuss this proposal again next week, would that be
agreeable with you?" When speaking to a group--"John, Susan,,
Harry, that wraps it up. What comments or questions do you have?" Or,
"I want to thank you folks at Acme for considering our proposal. Would
you like to contract our services and move forward with a contract?"
it a habit to ask questions until it becomes second nature. It will improve
your interpersonal skills in both business and social settings.
Corelli is an international business speaker who speaks from EXPERIENCE, not
textbook theory, and is the author of "Wake Up and Smell the
Competition - They're Closer Than You Think"
- How to Compete and Win in Today's Real World" . For
information on her speaking and training programs call 352-438-0261