Why Effective Questioning Leads to Sales

by Howard Litwak

As a Certified Business Coach, Howard specializes in helping Business Owners, Executives, and Managers Improve their ability to set and achieve goals, develop success oriented thinking and habits and refines their skills. He believes that success in business is driven by individuals and teams who have the right combination of these things. Howard has clients that span across 30 different industries. When you meet him, you'll immediately see why he has been so successful across so many business sectors. He mixes big picture thinking, with practical, results oriented actions, and an ability to challenge peoples thinking in a positive way so that they can take different actions. And he is pretty fun to be around. Howard's approach pays rich dividends for clients who put a premium on professional competence, continuous improvement, being the best that they can for themselves and their customers, and will do what it takes to break out of the "status quo."


I talk with clients a lot about effective questioning as part of the sales process. (Notice I said "effective questioning")

Dan Pink gives the reason that questioning is so powerful in his book "To Sell is Human." It's a study of the psychology of moving people aka: Sales. (I do this type of studying so you don't have to if you don't want!)

The significance lies in the core of how questions operate. Let's contrast this first with a statement.

When you make a statement, it can be received passively. This is what happens when you "pitch." And why a pitch so often falls on deaf ears. Telling is not selling. It's certainly not helping a prospect buy from you.

When you ask a question, the receiver is compelled to respond, either aloud if the question is direct, or silently if it is rhetorical.

That requires at least a bit of effort on the part of your prospect or as researchers say "more intensive processing of message content." That's the key!

Deeper processing reveals the connection of strong arguments to the prospect and creates clarity for them. Effective questioning allows your prospect to assign meaning in the context of their own world and this leads them to deciding if there is a fit for them to do business with you or not.

This is why "telling is not selling". And why top sellers in every industry have a list of powerful questions they regularly ask, whether they realize the psychology behind it or not.

Now you know the psychology. You can gain an advantage over your competition and increase your sales if you apply it.

So the next time in a sales call you find yourself wanting to "pitch" or "tell", what will you do? Turn your statement into a question so that you can run it through your prospects brain for processing.