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A Thing Be Open


Be Open


O ne of the first things we learn in sales is that if you ask a yes/no question, you will get one of two answers: yes or no.  While that yes or no may give you some information, it is not nearly as useful as the information an open-ended question solicits.

For example, the question “Are you happy with your current service” doesn’t serve your purpose. If the merchant tells you he or she is happy, you’ve set up your own barrier to the sale. If the answer is no, you’ve gained some information, but not enough to let you know how to position your product. Plus, you’ve made more work for yourself. A yes/no question usually means you need to ask more questions to get the same response as one open-ended query. Open-ended questions, such as “What do you wish your service could do better?” or “If you could design your own service, what would it do?” will give you the information you need to turn your service into a solution.

Another example involves Web stores. A question such as “Have you considered an Internet storefront?” doesn’t encourage the merchant to provide additional information. But, if you rephrase the question as “What would you expect an Internet storefront to do for you and your business?” or “What concerns you about the idea of an Internet storefront?” the answer will provide information useful to your sales efforts.

If your questions are soliciting simple one-word answers (yes, no, uh-huh, maybe) that force you to ask additional questions, try rephrasing them. Usually, if you design a question beginning with “how” and “why” you have a good chance of soliciting a helpful response. For example, “How have you. . .” “How would you. . .” “Why do you feel that way. . . ” or “Why are you concerned. . .”

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