Five Rules To Ask Better Questions
As a sales leader, you might think you are supposed to have all the answers. However, the best leaders know they don’t know everything and have learned the art of asking great questions. Whether you are sitting down with a sales rep for a formal review, chatting with your employees in a casual conversation, or engaging with a client on a sales call, it’s important to know how to ask the right questions in the right way.
Questions are especially important when it comes to coaching and training, notes Jeb Blount, CEO of Sales Gravy, Inc. With the right questions, you can create more authentic and open communication that generates accountability and loyalty, he says.
Want to make sure you are asking thoughtful questions? Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, where we share Blount’s five rules for asking better questions.
Rule No. 1: People need to feel connected to you before they reveal the entire truth. Don’t expect your sales reps to immediately open up to you. Remember that people naturally have their wall up when dealing with the boss, says Blount. You can connect with your employees by asking questions and then listening intently. Give your full attention and allow your employees to tell their story without interjecting your own thoughts.
Rule No. 2: Start with simple questions. When you want to learn more from someone, make it easy to get them talking. The more they talk, the more they will reveal. Blount recommends beginning conversations with questions that are easy to understand and that the other person will enjoy answering. Once they feel at ease, you can begin asking more direct and deeper questions.
Rule No. 3: Listen for the story. There’s a story behind every conversation. Your sales reps and clients aren’t merely discussing numbers and ideas—there’s more to it. As a manager, you can learn to ask better questions by listening attentively and encouraging the speaker to expand on their stories. According to Blount, the cues and clues that lead to emotions, roadblocks and opportunities to coach, train and develop are tucked inside these stories.
Rule No. 4: Empathy is crucial. When asking questions, learn to listen deeply with your eyes, ears and intuition. This will lead you to emotional cues such as voice inflection, body language and facial expressions, says Blount. When you spot these cues, ask follow-up questions to dig deeper.
Rule No. 5: Avoid making assumptions. You might think you know what your employees need or what your clients are thinking. Rather than assuming and dumping your answers on the other person, take time to ask questions and let them answer.
Asking better questions starts with getting to know the other person. Whether you are communicating with a sales rep or a prospect, begin with questions that are easy to answer and focus on finding the story underneath the response. Show your empathy and your commitment to hearing them out rather than assuming you know what the are going to say. If you want to be a great leader, learn how to ask great questions.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Jeb Blount is CEO of Sales Gravy, Inc. He has more than 25 years of experience with Fortune 500, small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups.