Benchmark Business Group

Using Open-Ended Questions to Gather Facts

May 18, 2021

If you’ve taken any type of sales training, you’re probably familiar with the idea of asking open-ended questions instead of asking closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions help grow a conversation so that you can learn more about your client/prospects. And closed-ended, or yes/no questions, can quickly end a conversation.

For instance, if you ask a Yes/No question such as, “Would you like to talk about your life insurance?” It’s easy for a prospect to say, “No, thank you.” At that point, trying to handle an objection is difficult, because they’ve already said no.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a time and place for close-ended questions. Sometimes you need to use them to find facts, but this is also where a huge opportunity exists. In many fact-finding tools closed-ended questions work. They’re not necessarily bad, but could they be better if you focused on changing them to open-ended questions?

Two quick examples:

  • Do you have children? On the surface this is a question that you will need to know the answer to at some point, but it doesn’t give you much information. Instead, try asking, “Tell me about your family?” In asking a more open question, you’ll be surprised to see where the conversation goes. You will learn if they have people that may not technically be family, but that they care about. You will learn if they talk about their family as a source of pride or even a source of frustration. It will help you understand what they value and care about. All this information will help you know what they want to protect.
  • Do you have life insurance? Again, you’ll want to know this, but consider starting with questions that dig more into emotion. This helps open the conversation to discover new opportunities. There are lots of questions that can create a deeper conversation around life insurance such as:
    • If something would happen to you how would your family be taken care of?
    • What do you know about living benefits?
    • What has been your experience with life insurance?

If you do ask closed-ended questions you can always ask follow-up questions, but it changes the tone of the conversation. The conversation becomes more fact-based and less about understanding your prospect, what’s important to them, and what their needs are.

If you engage in conversations with your prospects and clients determined to learn about them and find out what is important to them, open-ended questions are the best approach. If all you desire are facts and information you can rely on closed ended questions.

However, we challenge you to look at the questions that you ask in your fact-finding stage. Yes, you want to gather facts, but how you gather those facts can be through a deeper and more emotional conversation that builds relationships and identifies needs. With some intentional crafting of the questions your sales conversations will lead to more conversions and your clients will feel more cared for.

To increase your sales conversions, check out this Blast from the Past Article: Stop Selling and Start Solving

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