Want to Close More Sales? Ask Better Questions!


The “gift of the gab” is often regarded as a defining characteristic of successful salespeople. The truth is that over-talking actually loses more sales than it wins. And unfortunately the people who monopolize conversations usually aren’t aware they’re doing it and will never know how much money this habit is costing them.

[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Epictetus, AD 55-135″]We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. [/pullquote]

The good news is that there’s a simple solution: ask more questions! Questions play a pivotal role in every stage of the placement process. Here are 7 reasons why questions are so vital to your success in recruitment…

  1. Questions engage prospects and get them talking.
    Asking questions is the surest way to promote dialogue and get people talking. This makes the call flow more naturally, and takes the pressure off you to carry the conversation.
  2. Questions build rapport.
    Asking questions shows your clients and candidates that you’re interested. Most people like talking about themselves and their business, and when you take a genuine interest in somebody, rapport develops as a natural consequence.
  3. Questions help us gain valuable information.
    Information is the recruiter’s stock-in-trade. The quality of your information is a function of two factors: finding a reliable source, and asking them the right questions
  4. Questions allow you control of the conversation.
    The person asking the questions controls the conversation. Questions enable you to set the direction, control the flow, and influence the outcome of the call.
  5. Questions are the key to understanding the client’s needs.
    Unless you can accurately identify your prospects needs, you’re not going to close the deal. Before we can hope to influence people, we must first understand their situation — including their problems, frustrations, goals, dreams and desires. Questions are the key to uncovering needs and understanding what’s most important to your clients and candidates.
  6. Questions control the direction of the listener’s thoughts.
    And questions determine what they focus their attention on. For example, the question “What did you like best about the job?” contains a powerful hidden assumption: you like the job! In that moment, the candidate isn’t focused on whether or not that statement is true. Instead, their mind takes that as a given, and jumps straight to answering why they like it.
  7. Questions persuade; reasons don’t.
    As Neil Rackham wrote in Spin Selling, the most empirical book on selling ever published: “Questions persuade; reasons don’t.” You can never truly persuade people of anything. All you can do is ask the right questions so that people persuade themselves.

Top-performers recognize that the art of persuasion is less about delivering slick sales pitches and more about asking appropriate and insightful questions. Questions are the “tools of our trade.” Just as carpenters can’t build houses without hammer and nails, recruiters can’t close deals without asking effective questions.

Asking effective questions — asking the right questions, at the right time, in the right way — is a skill that can be improved with practice. Practice asking more questions, and letting your clients and candidates do most of the talking. You’ll find the quality of your communication improves, along with your results.

About the Author


Mark Whitby is one of the world's leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team's sales by 67% in 90 days.

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