Questioning – the most important of your communication skills?
Questioning is undoubtedly one of the key communication skills. Along with listening your questioning skills are the main elements of rapport-building. If you ask lots of open questions naturally and you listen attentively you will find it easy to build rapport. Conversely if you don’t, you won’t.
We spend around 3/4 hour on questioning skills during our 2 day training sessions so what is here is just a hint of what it’s about. However we also have an audio CD available with details of our Questioning skills module available through our sister company Associated Learning Systems.
There are different types of questions you can use when speaking to your customers. Open questions featuring the 7 W’s help in a number of ways;
- They help you gather more information
- Helps ‘open’ people up to you
- Makes them feel involved
- Displays interest
- And so, is one of the key rapport building skills
Use them liberally to get the conversation going. You will find they work equally well when trying to resolve an issue for a customer and likewise when trying to sell to them and you’re establishing needs.
Closed questions are also powerful
Sometimes you might be told that closed questions are best avoided, that they’re weak in some way, that they’re certainly not as good as open questions. But I think they’re very powerful and are a vital part of your armoury whether you’re in a proactive sales, lead generation type role or whether you’re dealing reactively with inbound calls.
- Can speed the process up
- They help get specific information
- Useful to help clarify both yours and their understanding
- Helps you direct the conversation
Admittedly this is my terminology, so don’t worry if you’ve not come across this before. Camouflage questions are always, always, always open, but you use them to gain specific information, just as you would closed questions. So they’re open, but they feel a bit like closed questions. “How many do you want to buy today?” is an example. “What’s your site’s postcode?” is another example. They contain one of the 7 ‘W’s but they are n’t relationship building questions per se.
Structuring the conversation
Being able to structure your business conversation around some good questioning techniques helps. Clearly. A brilliant and useful maxim I heard years ago is “remember open questions to open your call, closed questions to close it.”
I’ve found that this maxim or model is equally useful if you’re in reactive role and you’re trying to solve a problem for a customer, as it is in a proactive sales, or lead generation role.
Some examples of how this works in real life are covered in the training courses that To Market runs as well as on the CD which covers this topic on the Associated Learning Systems website.
Contact us for more information via the contact page on the website or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Market telephone techniques training is carried out for businesses across the East and West Midlands including Birmingham, Coventry, Daventry, Lichfield, Solihull, Rugby, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Nuneaton, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Loughborough, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Kettering, Corby, Northampton, Wellingborough, Oakham, Uppingham, Rutland as well as wider parts of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. 01858 461148 for more details.