Boost Your Curiosity
The most impactful connection is done through meaningful questions - here's why.
What do you think engages and creates a lasting impression on someone that you have just met? Most people believe we connect with people by saying the right thing or providing them with new information. The compelling truth is that asking meaningful questions is far more impactful.
Powerful questions can immediately help you win more business, deepen your relationships, and assist you in connecting with people more rapidly that you ever thought possible. Asking thought-provoking questions will allow you to engage and uncover key issues and opportunities in ways that provide you with a differentiator in the market.
One of the key characteristics of a person who is successful at creating sales opportunities with customers is that they seem sincerely interested in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of other people. They are likeable and have learned one of the great secrets to success in building human relationships…they ask great questions and listen carefully to the answers people share. They possess an element of keen curiosity.
Learning how to ask great questions and to be naturally curious is one of the most important qualities for you to focus on. The more questions you ask, the more you learn about what is important to others and about how your product or service may be able to create value for the people you would like to do business with. When you ask questions, you get inside the heart and mind of anyone you meet.
I was recently meeting with a business executive, who was running a large company. She deals with people who want to earn the right to share time with her consistently. I asked her what the key was to people having the opportunity to meet with her and she said that it was about building credibility early in the conversation by asking a powerful question. She then went on to say that people who ask her great questions build trust and credibility quickly versus those that want to tell her all about how they can help her. She believed it showed arrogance when someone assumed, they knew what she needed before asking any questions? It is the quality of the questions people ask and how intently they listen after that differentiates them.
The 10 Keys to Effective Questioning Strategies That Will Help You Uncover Your Customers Real Needs
1. A good question can draw someone inward and cause him to reflect, consider, and even do so subconsciously through the awareness your question has created. Your questions will help to make people pause and think differently about their situation. Questions require an answer so if you focus on insightful questions that will force people to dig deeper, you will be viewed as a valued resource automatically.
2. Good questioning allows you to take control of a situation, without being controlling! Many sales people believe that when you are telling, you are selling and that puts you in control of the conversation. When you are talking though, people can “check out” and be in their own thoughts without really hearing what you’re saying. When you ask them questions, then you can guide where the conversation goes by flowing with the answers and direction you choose. Good questioning allows you to take control of a situation, without being controlling! Many sales people believe that when you are telling, you are selling and that puts you in control of the conversation. When you are talking though, people can “check out” and be in their own thoughts without really hearing what you’re saying. When you ask them questions, then you can guide where the conversation goes by flowing with the answers and direction you choose.
3. Good questions create higher quality communication. Higher quality communication fosters superior relationships. Do you want superior relationships? Then you must start by asking better questions. Many people prepare to ask simple questions and therefore never really get to the heart of connecting. Asking powerful questions will require you to plan purposefully for your communication with potential customers. When you plan, move past the traditional fluffy or high-level questions…think deeper. How will you get the answers you really want? Work backwards from there to create impactful questions.
4. Good questions lead the recipient on a path of self-discovery. You could tell someone something and perhaps they will consider it. If they discover it on their own, then THEY own it! When you are responsible for guiding someone in this direction, they will automatically attach the energy of their “aha” moment to you, the person who guided them through the discovery. The most impact you can have is when you ask questions that have people say, “Wow, I haven’t thought of things in that way before.” You can’t get to this place by telling people your thoughts. You can only get to this new, amazing place by taking them on a journey of discovery together.
5. Good questions create high levels of rapport. Perhaps you have heard the quote “judge of a man not by his answers, but by his questions.” What do your questions say about you right now? In this era of over-communication, you are responsible for acting in ways that separate you from the norm. How can you connect with people at a deeper level? Think of being at a gathering and then leaving and you can’t wait to share about this person that you met who was just “amazing.” When asked to describe what made them unique, you can’t quite put your finger on it. I will guess that this person asked you meaningful questions and then actually listened to hear your answers, with great interest, and then moved the conversation forward in this fashion. You felt understood, it felt real, it felt more meaningful. You connected on an emotional level.
6. A good question changes the lens in which a person sees their world. This is such a powerful thought! You can actually have that impact for someone – that they’ll begin looking at things differently due to the questions you ask them. You have the ability to change someone’s future trajectory by focusing your attention on your communication with them. Think of someone close to you and how often you have “told” them to do something. What if the next time you communicate with them, you instead turn that thought into a question and how their decision is impacting them? Here is an example of this thought: My son loves to throw his socks on the floor in our family room and every day for the longest time, I tell him to pick them up and put them in the laundry room. He might or might not follow my instructions without me having to tell him again. Instead, I choose a different approach and I ask him, “Who do you think will move those if you don’t and what impact do you think that has on your Mama?” The very next day, the habit shifts. When you give people the gift of seeing things from their own perspective and with a different insight from your question, it can shift people in profound ways. Now, my example isn’t profound and yet sometimes, it’s the simplest things that can have the most impact on people.
7. A good question, asked of the wrong person, is just as ineffective as a poor question asked of the right person. This is key in your sales process that must be paid attention to. So many people run around in circles, hoping to earn new customers and thinking they are asking great questions, and yet, they are speaking with the wrong person. What if someone asked one of your children if they could purchase your house – now that is a crazy thought! If that seems bizarre then why do you spend time dealing with the wrong contacts within businesses? Take the time and have the courage to spend time with people that can move forward with you and your offering.
8. A good question, at the front end of a response can offer the clarity needed for you to offer a more meaningful response. Often customers say “yes” to do business with us and yet we haven’t taken the step to create a connection that will drive ongoing loyalty. You don’t just want to earn a new customer; you want to create a lifelong partnership. When you are in a position to work with a new customer, take the time to ask questions about how this will impact them, why they chose to partner with you, what is most important to them in this decision they have made. Take the time to slow down and gain the clarity and connection.
9. Good questions focus not only on discovering the pain, they focus on discovering the opportunities your customer or prospect desires! People buy for two reasons – they want to diminish a pain or experience a pleasure. When you meet someone, you have the opportunity to help them reflect on where they are today, where they desire to be in the future and what the gap is that is keeping them from achieving their future view. Many people believe that by uncovering pain, you can influence people to make a change. The reality is that although the pain is usually something that people attach more energy to, people also learn how to live with their pain and therefore you also want to get people excited about the amazing things they dream of. When you uncover both their pain in the current and paint a picture of what the future state can be, then you will have connected emotionally with them. This process happens by asking great questions.
10. A good question can move someone off the fence of indifference by igniting emotional buy-in! I’ve used the words emotionally and connect often in this learning already. Combine these together and create an emotional connection with someone and you have a customer for life. People believe they buy from others for logical reasons…think of the last time you purchased a car and someone asked you, “why that particular car,” and you started talking about the colour and the leather heated seats, the price, and on and on the list goes. The real reason you purchased it was how you felt driving the car. We don’t realize that we always justify our emotions with logic. People are moved by how they feel, not how they think. Even for those people who say they are thinkers and use analytics and logic, this is still a truth.
Reflection: How often do you plan on creating connections through the powerful questions you ask? How much focus have you given this in the past? What impact has this had on your life and business?