The depth of your questions is greater than the brilliance of your answers.
If you want to build credibility and increase your power to persuade, ask better questions instead of trying to give the best the answers.
Questions are a proven shortcut to mastery, but they have another interesting effect: good questions offer a mask to a lack of confidence in your ability to pitch or persuade, and the right questions end up doing the job for you. This means that you can often convince someone you have mastery of a subject simply by knowing which questions to ask.
Asking insightful questions, even simple ones, demonstrates at least a basic understanding of the challenge or situation which is the first step to creating credibility.
Good Questions Are Like Powerful Levers
Archimedes once said, “give me a lever long enough and I will move the world.” Insightful questions are powerful because they act like levers to pry open doors where answers, solutions and decisions are hiding.
Are you in sales? Few things are more persuasive to a prospect than demonstrating that you have a full understanding of the problem or situation your prospect is in.
An old sales adage is that, “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” This is very true in business, as it is in life.
How do you show people that you care? Ask questions, show curiosity and of course, be empathetic.
Instead of pitching the features and benefits of your product or service, begin asking deep and probing questions the way a doctor does when diagnosing the issue of a patient. This way your product or service becomes the prescription for their pain.
Are you looking to start a business? Ask people (aka prospective customers) what they’re frustrated with, what they wish existed, what they wish they had more of, etc. You might discover the next big idea or opportunity stemming from a few simple questions.
In my business podcast, my entire show is based around asking probing questions of my guests. At the end of each episode, I specifically ask them, “What’s a nut you’re trying to crack right now?”
This question creates a visual of them trying to solve a problem—crack a nut—in their life or business. Based on the answers I’ve received, I’ve been able to create a number of lucrative opportunities and business deals.
If you want to open up new opportunities, you can ask this same question of your friends, coworkers, superiors or even strangers. People love talking about their problems, and sometimes the answer is right under their nose… or right under your nose. When you have a valuable answer to someone else’s challenge, you create immense opportunity.
5 Ways To Be Awesome At Asking Questions
Asking questions is easy, asking deep questions is a skill that must be acquired.
Some people may be born with an inquisitive mind, but just like a child who repeatedly and incessantly asks ‘why,’ it’s important to know how to ask questions that move you toward a goal.
Sometimes this goal is to simply solve a problem, many times it can be to advance a sale or your career.
1. Know Why You’re Asking The Question
Your first step is to know why you’re asking the questions and which type of answers you’re looking for in order to move the conversation forward. Simply asking questions that don’t lead you to a desired outcome is futile and tiring for both parties.
So are you trying to close a sale, solve a problem, create something that doesn’t exist, find an untapped entrepreneurial opportunity, or make a good impression on someone?
In sales, the best questions are designed to reveal opportunities for you to step in and fill a gap the customer is having. But first you must identify the gap between where they are and where they want to be. You do this with pointed questions.
2. Don’t Go For Yes Or No
Questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are called closed-end questions for a reason: when the other party answers, the question is closed and often you receive incomplete information.
Instead, try asking open-ended questions that need to be explained.
Start your questions with ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘why,’ ‘when,’ ‘where’, or ‘how’ because this leads people to give more thought and insight to their answers. It also gives you more information and makes asking follow up questions much easier.
3. Go Deep, Not Wide
Follow-up questions are critical to the process. They demonstrate your understanding of the original answer and allow you to probe for even more.
These follow up questions can be as simple as, “what makes you say that?” or, “Can you give me an example?”
4. Be Comfortable With Silence
When asking questions, especially in sales, there are few more powerful tools you can use than silence.
This is because silence during a conversation naturally makes people uncomfortable. Thus, they begin talking even more to fill the silence in, often revealing more than you ever asked.
5. Hold Your Thoughts, Don’t Interrupt
Interrupting someone can derail a powerful conversation because it redirects the momentum of someone’s thoughts from where they were going to where you wanted it to go.
It’s very easy to sit, wait for them to finish a complete sentence, and then ask your question or offer your insight.
Ultimately, the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself and others. It’s only through the proper questions that the most brilliant answers will appear.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.