We’ve touched upon the importance of asking good questions frequently in this blog. For example, in OVERCOMING NEGATIVE CLIENTS, we discussed how insightful questions can help reset the table when dealing with a domineering client.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a deep dive into the importance of questions: what to ask, and how to ask it.

Today we look at the basics: why it’s important to ask questions and the various types of questions you can ask to reveal important information about your prospect.

WHY QUESTIONS ARE IMPORTANT

One of the biggest traps many salespeople fall into (especially those who are nervous about the sales process) is thinking that they need to do most of the talking. But the best way to build rapport, and a strong relationship with a prospect, is through effective dialogue. In fact, in an ideal world, your prospect should do 70% of the talking.  The best way to get your prospect talking is by asking good questions.

Here are a few reasons why questions are important:

  • Better questions lead to better answers; hopefully answers that help guide your approach to working with the prospect.
  • Questions help uncover specific information about the prospect’s situation, motivations, etc.
  • Strong questions help to establish a bond with the prospect, thus elevating your influence in their eyes.
  • Questions help you to build control of the relationship, but in a way that’s not obvious to the prospect.
  • Asking questions force you to listen.
  • The process of asking questions might lead the client to “self-discover” and possibly persuade themselves to act or move the process forward.

Before moving on, we want to touch upon the aspect of control as mentioned in the previous list. There are three ways questions help with regard to controlling a sales call:

  1. The prospect will process both the question AND answers, whether verbalize it or not. In other words, they become more engaged in the process by thinking through the questions.
  2. Effective questions (and listening to the answers) allows you to control the direction of the conversation. This is particularly important when dealing with a prospect who is throwing countless objections your way.
  3. Questions effectively shifts the prospect away from their emotional right brain, which is often the source of many objections.

TYPES OF QUESTIONS

Let’s take a look at the basic types of questions a real estate agent might ask a prospect to move the conversation forward, along with examples of each:

  • Closed-ended questions are those that look for a simple, straightforward answer, often yes or no. These are OK in some situations. But generally, you’ll want to move away from closed-ended questions as they do not drive dialogue:
    • Where do you plan to move?
    • Do you want me to list your home?
    • How much/what percentage of a down payment do you have?
  • Open-ended questions require a more in-depth and considered response. These are great for drivers and analytics because it forces them to engage a little more. Also, open-ended questions force you to listen more carefully:
    • What are you looking for in an agent?
    • What is your decision-making process?
    • Why do you feel your home is worth more than your neighbors?
  • General, open-ended questions probe a little deeper
    • Did you get qualified for a loan?
    • Do you plan on selling it yourself?
  • Specific questions push the prospect to expand on previous answers. These questions take a more aggressive tact for you to guide the conversation:
    • Are you looking for an aggressive agent?
    • What type of loan are you applying for?
    • What are the reasons you’d like to sell it on your own?
  • Multiple-choice questions limit the prospects’ responses, and are great for expressives because they like to make their own choices.
    • Is today at 3, or tomorrow better for you?
    • Do you feel the market is increasing or declining?

Once you begin to use questions to control the pace and direction of a conversation, you’ll begin to notice a change in your prospecting efforts. You’ll feel more comfortable and energized. Most importantly, you’ll begin to feel more confident in your abilities.

In our next post, we’ll expand upon the power of questions to drive even greater rapport with your prospects.