I stopped for gas at the convenience store in my neighborhood and the automated pump wasn’t working so I needed to pay inside.
After I paid for my gas, the clerk then asked me the question, "Will there be anything else?"
I would bet most of you reading this would respond the same way I did. That is, with a trance-like, "Uhh, no, that's all."
I've been asked this question many times. But never can I recall responding, "Gosh, that's a great question. Thanks for reminding me -- I need to buy all of my groceries here."
On the other hand, the manager of this gas station, whom I’ve seen and spoken with before, (and whom I suspect gets a cut of sales), usually asks a better question at the end of a transaction: "How about a newspaper today? Need a lottery ticket?" Oh sure, you can moan how that's similar to the McDonald's line of "Do you want fries with that?" and that people are tired of hearing it. But the fact is, it's a better sales question -- and sells a heckuva lot of potatoes.
Here’s another fact: Dumb questions get dumb answers. The quality of your question determines the quality of the answer. Ask a dumb question, get a useless answer.
Maybe there aren't dumb questions in school or in training, but there are dumb questions in sales; those that give you worthless information and require another question to clarify the answer.
Here are just a few examples of dumb sales questions and their smarter counterparts:
Dumb question: "Will you be using the program for a long time?"
Better: "How long will you use the program?"
Dumb question: "Does that happen often?"
Better: "How often per day, approximately, does that happen?"
Dumb question: "Do you anticipate getting approval soon?"
Better: "When do you anticipate getting approval?"
Dumb question: "Do you use quite a bit of that chemical?"
Better: "How much of that chemical do you use per week?"
Dumb question: "Should I check back with you later?"
Better: "When do you anticipate finishing the evaluation so I can check back with you?"
Listen to recordings of your calls. If you are not getting the responses you’d like to your inquiries, analyze and modify the questions.
Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online, and is published here with permission.