How Many Questions Should You Ask at a Time?

in Listening, Questioning

At a social function I was talking to a guy who asked five questions in a row, didn’t listen to any of the answers, and only used his questions as a springboard to talk about himself.

Since I didn’t take much interest in what he was pitching (he shoved his business card into my hand) I watched and listened as he did that with several other people he met.

Sure, we all know we should ask questions. But the effort is wasted if they’re not asked in the right way, or you don’t listen to the answers.

 

++++++++KEY SALES POINT+++++++
When a listener hears a question, their mind immediately is conditioned to begin searching for answers. However, when several questions are posed in rapid-fire sequence, you leave the person confused as to which one they should answer first. And, some questions are not answered at all if you don’t give them an opportunity.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For example, read this scenario without stopping to think about each question, as if you were the person hearing the questions:

Caller: "And what do you feel your company needs most regarding boosting morale and enthusiasm? Do you think it would be compensation related… or maybe training? And how does that affect performance in all of the departments?"

Did you feel like a spinning top, rotating around trying to focus on the questions coming from all directions? Same thing happens with prospect and customers.

EFFECTIVE QUESTIONING GUIDELINES
1. Ask one question at a time.
If it’s not important enough to stand on its own, don’t ask it.

2. After you ask it, shut up. If they don’t answer immediately, resist the urge to answer it for them or follow up with another one. They’re likely thinking about what they’re going to say.

3. After they apparently have finished, remain quiet for 1-2 more seconds. You might get additional information, and ensures you don’t interrupt.

4. Follow-up their answer with a related question. Don’t ping-pong around from subject to subject. For example, if they answered with, "I believe the main problem we have right now is a lack of motivation," a logical next query would be, "Oh, what are some specific situations where you’ve seen a lack of motivation?"

5. Be confident in your questioning. One reason people ask multiple questions is that they aren’t comfortable asking questions. The only way you’re going to truly help someone is by finding out about them. You’re not intruding. You’re assisting.

Fielding multiple questions is confusing for the listener, and counter-productive for you. Ask one at a time, and listen!

Art

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James Taylor, CPE, CPMM April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Some place I heard that you should wait 14 seconds after asking a question for the respondent to formulate their answer. Don’t know if it’s true but it seems to work when I do training.

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telemarketing May 5, 2011 at 6:13 am

Some useful advice here Art – thanks for the tips.

Will take a nose through some of your other posts, looks like a good resource.

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