Open questionsimply a detailed response. They cannot be answered monosyllabically, “yes” or “no.” They usually start with questions: What? Who! How? Where? How many? Why? Which one?
Open-ended questions are needed to:
receive additional information from the client,
create a comfortable situation to maintain contact,
take the first steps to identify needs.
Examples of open questions:
“What is important to you when buying a drill?”
“Tell me, what are your requirements for this material?”
"What is the relevance of business training for your company?"
Advantages of open-ended questions:
encourage the interlocutor to answer, without limiting him in anything,
they orient a person to thoughts, analysis of his actions, stimulates the birth of thoughts that previously, perhaps, did not occur to him,
give the interlocutor the opportunity to voluntarily transmit information, freely talk about their feelings, comment on events,
pose the seller with the need to listen carefully and observe.
Disadvantages of open questions:
can provoke a long response, therefore, they can not always be applied in conditions of limited time,
they can embarrass an interlocutor who is not used to answering general questions,
can cause a confusing and confused answer, difficult to understand,
fraught with the need to ask clarifying questions, interrupting the interlocutor, which may offend him and lead to difficulties during the conversation.
It is advisable to ask open questions:
at the beginning of the negotiations,
to go from one topic to another,
if you need to make your interlocutor think
when it is necessary to find out the interests and needs of the client,
if you want to revitalize and enhance the client’s awareness of a phenomenon,
if you want to determine the cause of failures and doubts of the client.
All the questions you ask the client should contribute to constructive communication and be business and friendly. A good question asked in a rude manner will not only destroy the established contact, but may also lead to the failure of the transaction.
However, open-ended questions enable the interlocutor to get away from a specific answer, provide only information that is favorable to him, and even take the conversation aside. Therefore, in the process of a business conversation, it is recommended to ask other questions besides open ones.
Clarifying (semi-open) questionssuggest short concise answers. They should be asked if you are unsure of something or have doubts whether you understood the client correctly.
Purpose of clarifying questions- restore the omitted information, find out the personal idea of the interlocutor about some issue, double-check what was said.
These questions are necessary to:
Get specific information
clarify customer needs,
bring the client closer to the purchase (to the transaction).
Clarifying (semi-open) questions include the words:
"Do I understand correctly that…",
“Why?” Is one of the best clarifying questions,
"You want to say…",
“You mean. ".
Examples of clarifying (semi-open) questions:
That is, you would rather go to Greece. Did I understand you correctly?
Do I understand you correctly that you would like to get a gift for your spouse?
Tell me, please, how much would you like to meet? I ask this question in order to choose the most optimal option for you.
I have named you the main advantages of this model (this product, this brand). Tell me which one is best for you?
You rephrase the client’s statement and clarify whether they understood it correctly. The interlocutor will confirm or refute your doubts and may provide additional information.
Feel free to ask clarifying questions if you do not understand something or are in doubt. Believe me, the client will not think badly of you. Rather, you will give the impression of a person who seeks to thoroughly understand the issue and not miss the important points of the conversation.
Open Question Goal
Listening to the answer to your question, an experienced counterpart deliberately introduces himself to a certain emotional state, allowing the potential client to feel like the main person involved in the meeting. As practice shows, an inexperienced person, being in such conditions, loses his head and can inform his interlocutor even about what he did not plan.
In the event that the expected effect is not achieved, the person asking the questions makes the next attempt to talk to the client - he does everything in his power so that the failed monologue becomes the beginning of the dialogue.
Why do people ask open-ended questions?
Open-ended questions are a quick way to get more information and learn about the true motives that drive the person you are talking to. The ability to ask the right open questions is a kind of skill, which can be mastered only if theoretical knowledge is confirmed by many years of practice.
During the first meeting, the seller tries to outline for himself the circle of interests of the interlocutor and create conditions for satisfying his problems. An experienced negotiator achieves this with questions such as: “What do you think, can it come in handy. ? ”,“ What are you interested in at the moment? ”, And also invites the client to consider their answers, formulating them in the form of questions, for example:“ Why don’t you. "," And if you try to do so. "
To understand how a potential buyer accepted the seller’s intention to help him make a choice, they ask questions: “How do you feel about this?” Or “What do you think?”, And if a customer doubts, the reasons for doubts are clarified using the questions: “What do you bothering you? ”,“ What do you doubt? ”or“ What could be a hindrance? ”
Examples of open questions
“In connection with what did this situation arise?”
"Why do you think your choice is right?"
Perhaps someone will be surprised by the following example of an open-ended question. In sales, questions such as: “What problems can you solve by buying this product?” Sellers who work in the store usually do not ask. But they are actively used by direct sales workers who are interested in long-term cooperation and seek to find a reason to gain the trust of a potential client.
Here are examples of open-ended questions that distributors usually ask:
“Do you think this acquisition has brought you the maximum benefit?”
“When did you first hear about this opportunity?”
“What benefits have you noticed?”
Another example of an open sales question, a question such as: “What result do you expect?” Opens up the opportunity for the seller to demonstrate the whole range of goods that meets the expectations of the client, and the buyer can make the best choice.
Before going to a meeting with a client, the seller carefully thinks over exactly what questions he will ask and in what order.
How to start a dialogue
This topic is of concern to almost every newcomer who decides to devote himself to the field of sales: “how to ask a question to a person who does not intend to listen to me?”
A knowledgeable negotiator uses open-ended questions to better understand the needs of the client. Asking his questions, he tries:
- so that the wording is extremely clear. The shorter the question, the more likely it is to get a detailed answer,
- so that the dialogue does not turn into an interrogation. Questions raised in a relaxed way are more likely to be heard.
Of course, the seller must know how to ask questions correctly. There are cases when a theoretically savvy novice seller, knowing exactly how to ask a question, asked him and did not achieve success. This is because many newcomers have never heard that any phrase, at the end of which the speaker’s voice weakens, sounds like a statement of fact. When the speaker speaks the last words of a phrase, raising his voice, the whole phrase sounds like a question.
Having completely focused on the interlocutor, the seller, after listening to his answers, can, in principle, be silent, showing his interest only with an approving smile, a nod of his head, or using the so-called “sign language”.
Hearing an unsatisfactory answer that does not make it possible to make an impression about the client, the experienced seller does not panic, but continues to show interest through facial expressions, poses and gestures, thus encouraging new attempts by the client to give a detailed answer. During the conversation, the sales representative oversees the body movements of the interlocutor. What for? About this - a little later. Now about the rules of active listening.
The active listener does not interrupt the client, but sometimes pronounces phrases like: “Yes, really!”, “This is interesting!”, And also clarifies everything that is not clear to him, using open questions.
As one of the methods of active listening, most sellers use the following trick: they repeat the words spoken by the client and take a break, during which they think about their further actions, and at the same time let the client know that his opinion is of interest to the interlocutor. There are cases when a novice seller offended a client by not paying due attention to his words.
If the listener crossed his arms over his chest, he took up a defensive position. This position should be regarded as a signal: "Let's change the subject."
If the interlocutor leaned slightly towards the speaker - he is very interested in talking.
If a potential buyer scratches his beard (chin), twirls an object in his hands or wipes his glasses - he makes a decision.
If the client sits directly, he is open to communication and fully trusts the seller.
If a person is slouching, he is full of humility and wants to please his interlocutor.
If a client with an absent look taps a shoe on the floor or on the leg of a chair, automatically draws something or clicks with a ballpoint pen - he is bored.
If the listener's body is turned towards the front door, he is waiting for a convenient moment to say goodbye and leave.
If a person covers his mouth with his hands or looks past the speaker, he does not intend to discuss any topic.
How not to have a conversation
Many sellers believe that during the meeting they should devote the maximum amount of time to describing the benefits of the products that they offer. But the description of the goods does not guarantee the conclusion of a transaction.
Another common mistake of a novice seller is that, trying to answer all customer questions, he allows the buyer to control the outcome of the transaction.
Wrong open questions
“Do you want to save your money?” Is a bad example of an open question. In sales, the correct wording plays a very important role. If the question is not posed correctly, the sales representative will cease to control the situation and lose the client.
Making sales means controlling the development of events. The manager or person asking questions determines the direction of the course of events, and his interlocutor is to some extent a passenger who is traveling in the direction chosen by the manager.
“What do you think will make your life better?” Is another unfortunate example of an open question. In sales, questions of different types help to achieve different results, and a sales representative who allows a potential buyer to talk on abstract topics is wasting time.
The right negotiations
Experienced sales representatives start preparing for negotiations with setting goals, that is, they decide what information about a potential buyer he needs and how to get it.
The start of negotiations is, in essence, the collection of information, upon receipt of which, the seller can proceed to the presentation. Inexperienced sales representatives make the same mistake - instead of asking a potential client about his needs, they let him ask questions himself.
The seller cannot start asking questions without finding out what position the potential buyer occupies, since the requests of the ordinary employee and manager are significantly different from each other.