The Art of Asking Open-Ended Questions

You bring value to your prospects, clients, and yourself through the questions you ask — but only if they’re good questions. Allow me to introduce you to a concept I call “high-value questions.”Simply stated, a high-value question is one that creates a learning experience for either the questioner (you), the person being questioned (your prospect or client), or both. Naturally, the best high-value questions provide insight for all parties concerned.One characteristic of most high-value questions is that they are open-ended instead of closed-ended. I suspect you’ve heard this distinction before, and perhaps you’re applying it already. Let’s make sure you’re using open-ended questions to their full value.How to Ask Open-Ended Questions. If at the end of the meeting, I ask a prospect or client, “Did you find this meeting helpful?” that’s a closed-ended question since they can only answer “yes” or “no.” And while it’s good to know that they found the meeting helpful, unless they volunteer some elaboration to their answer, you don’t know in what ways they experienced value. Maybe they’re just being polite.On the other hand, I could ask, “We’ve been through a bit of a process to get to this point, have we not? Can you tell me the value you feel you’ve received by going through this entire process?”Now what happens? Your prospect or client clearly articulates their perception of the process, which helps you to get even clearer on your value. In addition, asking your prospects and clients about value actually helps them reinforce it in their own minds. The net result is you become more referable and earn the right to ask for referrals.

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