Open- vs. Close-Ended Questions

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When you are talking to a customer and attempting to get them to purchase your product or service, no matter how expensive, you have to ask the right questions. So, what are the right questions? This will be determined by the industry you are in, the customer you are speaking with, and your approach to the sales process. However, a good sales person always wants to use open-ended questions. If you use close-ended questions, then the conversation stops when your customer answers the wrong question the right way. Below are some examples from the telecommunications industry.

Don’t Ask: Do you like your phone?

Do Ask: What do you like best / least about your phone?

Don’t Ask: Do you like [insert carrier name here]?

Do Ask: What type of voice / data plan are you looking for?

Don’t Ask: Do you have phone warranty protection on your phone you have now?

Do Ask: Let’s chat about phone warranty protection and why it’s so important to have…

Don’t Ask: Would you like to purchase an accessory as well (i.e. case, charger, headset)?

Do Ask: Here are your options for cases, chargers, and headsets. Which one would you like?

I think you get the idea. When you ask close-ended questions it can really lead you to a dead end that you’ll have to dig your way out of. When asking open-ended questions you will typically get your customer to open up more to you and explain what he or she is looking for so that you can find the right solution(s) for your customer (and make the sale!).

Do you typically ask open- or close-ended questions? Which strategy works best for you?

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