The real art of selling is the same as the art of conversation.

When we talk to someone interesting we keep the conversation flowing by asking questions like:

  • What did you do then?
  • How much did that cost?
  • Why did you choose that path?
  • Who decided to go down that route?
  • How did it work out in the end?
  • Where are they now?
  • When are you planning to change?

All open-ended questions. They show interest. They invite opinions and depth, not one-word answers. These are the kinds of questions doctors learn to ask during their six years at Med School.

Asking "Does it hurt?" invites simple answers that offer no useful information. They invite "yes", "no", or "sometimes".

Asking "When does it hurt?" invites deeper answers. As does asking "How much does it hurt?" These are questions that draw out the detail doctors need to better understand what the problem is.

But there is another dynamic at play. In asking these questions a doctor invites you to speak. You're more likely to take his advice because you feel heard. Even when you take that advice on faith because it is too early to judge whether it will work or not.

These questions are also simple, focused on one issue at a time. Only reporters ask complex questions like "When did it happen and how much does it hurt now and...?"

When did you last second-guess your doctor? Ever wondered why it doesn't happen often?

This same style works when facing a prospect. Asking open-ended questions gives your prospect time to detail his view of the problem. As he feels heard he trusts you more. As you assess the answers you are more confident in the solution you propose.

Speaking of trust check out the two fatal mistakes most small businesses make. Both help you build relationships and trust. Most of us squander them.

Warm regards

Peter Carruthers