21 Jan

The Importance of Open Questions

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For some people, holding conversations is easy, while others seem to have to work harder just to make an impression.

The best-trained salespeople have something that the average person does not. They know the importance of open questions during the selling process.

So, what is the big deal with open questions?


What Are Open Questions?

Before we go into why open questions will help you drive sales, we should understand exactly what an open question is.

Essentially, an open question requires a bit more than a yes or a no for an answer. An example of this is, “What would it mean to you if we could increase profit by 20%?”


The point is to engage the person instead of just obtaining a standard yes or no answer.

Open questions have the ability to open up more dialogue between the buyer and salesperson and provide more in-depth knowledge about the buyer’s needs.

The more knowledge you have on their needs, the better you can match up your company’s Features, Advantages and Benefits to them, in order to win a client.


Benefits of Open Questions

Builds a Relationship

Open questions build rapport between the buyer and salesperson and help the buyer realise that they are talking to a real person as opposed to someone simply trying to push a product or service onto them.

These relationship-building attributes are what separate amazing sellers from those that fall into the average category.


Trust Building

We all know we need things in life and often desire what is being presented to us, but pushy and unprofessional sellers tend to turn off potential buyers.

However, when a salesperson is engaging and offers open questions that require a little more attention from the buyer, they feel more trusting toward the seller.

Holding a conversation that is valuable is the quickest way to build trust and drive an ongoing professional relationship.


Mitigating Risk While Understanding More

Think about this, if you are selling digital marketing (or any product or service for that matter) to a client and simply ask the question, “Have you tried digital marketing before?” You will receive a yes or no answer and learn nothing, but if you turn that into an open question, you will receive more valuable information.

For example, “What has worked with your digital marketing in the past?” The answer will be more involved, something like, “Our paid social media campaigns work really well, but our organic traffic is very low.”

The salesperson can then deduce that the buyer is happy to spend money on paid advertising but hasn’t taken advantage of an SEO strategy, or at least it hasn’t delivered.

The salesperson gathers more information that may help in establishing what exactly the buyer is looking for even if they, themselves, do not yet know.


How Do I Really Know I am Asking an Open Question?

Open questions are among the best way to make an initial sale and keep customers coming back again and again. Here are some tips on how to know you are asking open questions to potential buyers.


Does the Customer Have to Think About It?

As humans, we tend to answer yes or no questions quickly, almost on reflex, but an open question will require an answer that takes some thought. The customer will have to think of the answer before speaking.


Does the Response Involve Opinions and Open Dialogue?

When you ask an open question, it provides a way to open dialogue between you and the potential customer. They are invited to give their opinions that add value to the conversation.


Is the Dialogue Based on Conversation?

Your overall goal is selling, but every salesperson knows that the relationship between you and the buyer is crucial. If they do not feel valued or trust you as a seller, you will not make the sale. Ensure the question opens up a conversation instead of just a one-word answer.


Becoming a great salesperson is not as difficult as it might seem.


When starting out in sales, everyone has to start somewhere, and even the best have fallen victim to closed questions in the past. However, it is never too late to change, so the next time you are facing a potential sale, ensure you are asking open questions and creating true relationships with your potential buyers.

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Written by Ben Bennett

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