The More You Know …

One thing I know for sure – it is human nature to think and speak in close-ended questions. 

Another thing I know for sure – close-ended questions don’t help us get to know our customers, or serve them better. 

So this week’s post is dedicated to open-ended questions and the words we learned back in primary school – who, what, when, where, how and why. 

We’ve all experienced it, a great phone call or meeting where we believed we were going to close a sale or move a customer along to the next step but it doesn’t happen. We are left wondering why we weren’t successful, what we should have done. 

Chances are, we should have asked more questions. This would have helped both us, and our customer, identify needs and hopes for the future. 

But since we are pre-disposed to speak in close-ended questions, it is prudent to think about and create lists of open-ended questions on a regular basis, before the big meetings. 

Here, using The Phone Lady as my example, are a few such questions to get you started thinking about your own: 

WHO are you currently working with in terms of sales training?

WHO is responsible for making sales training decisions? 

WHAT types of sales training courses have you attended recently?

WHAT training courses do you currently make available to your sales team? 

WHEN do you make decisions about training for your sales team?

In terms of your sales cycle, WHEN is the best time to schedule training courses? 

WHERE do you think your sales team might need some support?

Where is your sales team in terms of the results you are expecting? 

HOW are you currently providing your sales team with training?

HOW can The Phone Lady work with your sales team? 

WHY would telephone sales training not be of interest to you?

WHY is your team currently hesitant about working on the phone? 

Whenever I ask these questions, whether I make the sale or not, I learn more about my potential customers. This knowledge is what keeps my business growing, what makes keeps me challenged and joyful as an entrepreneur. 

And what about you? Do you have open-ended questions you rely on regularly? Can you share them with us? 

Some of you know that I’m a fan of Steve Foran’s – the gratitude guy. He’s inspired me to share two bits of gratitude this week: 

I give thanks to the large group at CEED (Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development) that attended Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous on Tuesday morning. I am honoured by your participation and your response to the workshop. 

And I give thanks to the Crowne Plaza Fredericton where I delivered my full-day cold calling workshop to a fun and dynamic group of women, who kept me on my toes! The Crowne Plaza is now at the top of my list of favorite hotels. It delivers comfort and excellent service; everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. And I had the best night’s sleep in any hotel, anywhere! 

One last thought: 

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur, Chemist


0 thoughts on “The More You Know …”

  1. Mary Jane,

    Thank you for your down-to-earth approach to reminding us that in sales, as in the rest of life, common sense rules. Open-ended questions – how straightforward is that?


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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

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