A quote floated past me on Twitter last week and took my breath away for a moment. It captured a bit of wisdom that I believe deeply. I quickly wrote it down and used it as the starting point for a workshop the next day. After three hours of learning, a participant shared that one of his biggest takeaways was this quote.
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
– Tony Robbins –
That’s a very succinct way of stating something I know to be true: great questions allow us to inspire conversation, learn more about our clients’ needs and expectations, and put us in a perfect position to deliver excellence.
We all need to be asking more questions – not as a way to make immediate sales – but to uncover our clients’ and prospects’ desires and expectations, and build stronger relationships.
Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re asking better questions:
- Listen to great radio or podcast journalists interview guests. You’ll hear how the majority of their questions are open-ended. You’ll also hear that, while these journalists have done a lot of research, they stay in the moment and respond to what the guest is sharing. My favourite is Anna Marie Tremonti of CBC’s The Current. She is a master of the open-ended question and helping her guests share their stories with the audience.
- Craft open-ended questions ahead of time. Keep a running list of questions that have inspired great conversations and allowed you to learn new and interesting things about your clients and prospects.
- When in doubt about what your next open-ended question should be, try “Tell me more.” This phrase can be used in almost all conversations to encourage clients and prospects to provide details and context that will allow us to deliver a better product or service.
- Record your conversations from time to time. While I know hearing our own voice can be uncomfortable … get over it. The only way to improve is to understand your current performance. Listen to the questions you ask and the responses you receive. Were there other questions you could have included? Are there other areas you could have explored?