Sales Coaching Series, Part 10: The power of asking “killer” questions and LISTENING

Firstly, a BIG thank you to a few people who contacted me during the week to say that, as a result of my recent blogs and applying some of the concepts, they have WON new clients. My heart is so uplifted by that. GREAT!


Listening. What is it? In order for people to speak and for you to listen (your job as a diagnostician), you have to firstly ask questions. We all know that there are different types of questions. For example, open questions are best if you want information. Use words like:

  • “How is that?”
  • “Tell me more”
  • “Why do you think that happened?”
  • “Explain that again to me, please”…and so on. How, why, what-type questions.

For completeness, closed questions ask you for “yes/no”-type answers. Do you want fries with that? Do you prefer the red one or blue one?  

There are times in sales when you use both. In the early stages of relationship-building, open questions are best. Put the prospect at the centre of your life. Get them speaking. Get them to tell you where is their pain, what do they dream about, what are they not happy about with their current supplier.

Have you got specific “killer” questions to unearth the prospects pain? If not, spend time after this blog writing them down. Some may be “thinking”-type questions…focusing on facts, metrics, results, statistics i.e. more head than heart. “Feeling”-type questions ask exactly about that…e.g. ”so, how do people around here feel about that?”. It’s emotion more than factual, more heart than head, ok?


I can honestly say that learning killer questions, being able to ask them in an open, honest and empathetic way, has literally enabled me to feed my family over the past 20 years in consultancy. Ok, so it’s only the starting point of the process…however, once you diagnose, you must be able to prescribe, present your solution and then close the deal. Identifying needs and finding out if this prospect is for you and you for them, requires effort, input and patience.

Personal case study: I recall being almost “coffee’d-out” having met a prospect once and then going back again and again over a period of 15 months and nothing happened, nada, zilch, zero! On the point of almost giving up, I went back for one more time and…hey presto, NOTHING again! However, one week later, a call. “Can you come see me ?…I think you may be able to do something for us”. Turned out to be a very lucrative client for me over a long period and I put it down to persistence, not being a “pain”, being empathetic and, mostly, being non-judgemental and an ability to listen. In other words, when you ask a question, ZIP IT! Ask for permission to take notes…ALWAYS do this as not to do so, will send out the wrong signals and the person may clam up thinking…”what the hell is he/she writing about me?”. Be careful about this so courtesy is essential before writing down your thoughts.

Ok, now for a bit of homework. Try this consultative diagnostic process on a “friend”, ask your killer questions, did you unearth the causes of the pain, did you spend 80% of your time listening and 20% speaking?

Ask for feedback, do the exercise again and again until you are fully comfortable with it. Only then, try it out on a prospect.

Best of luck…and tell me how you have done! 

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