We've shared how important Active Listening is to your success. It’s the way to show others that you hear them, you care, and you’re interested in their thoughts. The problem is, most people do not ask enough questions and therefore, miss out on many, many benefits, not the least of which is being able to actively listen.
The real power of asking questions is that it leads to better relationships. Asking good questions shows you’re interested in understanding them (their operating reality), rather than your desire to be heard, or worse, be right. Asking questions allows you to be responsive and empathetic and get this - it’s been proven through Harvard Business Review research that asking more questions leads to increased likability!
Think about it – the more good questions you ask, the more your prospects, your team, your associates and your family and friends will like you.
Whether you are prospecting, trying to overcome an objection, hiring, trying to gain strategic alignment, or coaching for improved performance, the key is knowing how to ask great questions!
Understand this. You are being judged by the quality of your questions. And let’s be honest, you define others and your relationship with them by the quality of their questions. People who are skilled at asking questions:
1. Get to know the other person
What's the biggest thing on your mind right now?
What about this company keeps you working here?
How are you feeling about this decision?
2. Don’t reduce the negative; rather increase the positive
What's going best in your business?
(If you are trying to sell something, you may naturally want to focus on fixing what’s wrong. Start by understanding what’s right and see how you can build from there.)
3. Gain more insight
Can you tell me a little more about when that first became a priority?
4. Find out what matters most
What are your top initiatives and why are they at the top of the list?
This may or may not have anything to do with what you are selling or trying to influence; however, you can’t find gap or motivate others to change unless you know what matters most to them.
5. Get the other person talking more
This sounds exciting! Will you share more about how you feel about it?
The questions are open-ended (unless merely confirming a point). Avoid “yes” or “no” or one-word answers while you are seeking information.
6. Show they listened and heard
Thanks for sharing. I heard [this] – did I miss, or misunderstand anything?
Recap and Response check. Consider using the other person’s name here, too if you really want to increase likability!
7. Are not interrogative nor demeaning
Just because they have a question mark at the end doesn’t mean they will help advance relationships. Avoid things like “What did you expect?” What were you thinking?” or “Do you think you’re special?” questions that immediately lead to putting the other person on the defense. Better options might sound more like:
Wow, I can see that outcome wasn’t what you expected. What do you think caused the disconnect?
8. Seek to understand before asking to be understood
I'd love to share some ideas, but before I do, I would prefer to hear a little more about your situation so I can be sure to add value to you and this conversation. Can you help me understand how this is currently impacting you?
Adding value strengthens relationships.
9. Uncover needs, motivators and desires around their key decision
So tell me, what criteria will you be using to make a decision and how will you weight or rank their importance?
This is a “must have” question in every selling and hiring scenario and should be asked multiple times to multiple people.
10. Gain commitment
Is there anything preventing you from moving forward with [our plan, our solution, our next steps, etc.]?
All too often, we make assumptions that we are on the same page. Ask the question, gain the understanding, create alignment and advance relationship!
At Butler Street, we teach sales professionals, account managers, sales leaders, and executives how to build strong relationships and drive results through asking effective questions. This was a short list of what each process has in common. We have SIGN for sales, LAER for handling objections, PLACED for hiring and recruiting, and DASH for driving performance. If you think you or your team could build better relationships, contact us.