Open-ended or Close-ended?

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2004

Almost all salespeople know the “right answer” to that one.  Or do they?

If you are practicing “Needs Selling,” or any of its modern derivatives, such as Consultative Selling or Solution Selling, you're asking open-ended questions.  You want to try to get your prospects talking about their needs, their problems, and their pain.  You want to steer the conversation around to getting them “interested” in working with you, so that you can help alleviate their pain by helping solve their problems.  Open-ended questions are designed to do that.

That sounds exactly right, doesn't it?  It's just the way you want to sell.  If that's the right way to sell, and it really works, and it's not so hard to do, why aren't you rich?

Why is it that most salespeople, almost all of whom ask open-ended questions, either fail or fail to achieve real success?  Why do they struggle to meet quota?  Why are so many salespeople unhappy with their work?  Could it be that selling systems that rely on open-ended questions don't work very well anymore?

Now, I'm not saying that you should never ask open-ended questions.  In High Probability Selling, there are specific times and specific circumstances when open-ended questions are entirely appropriate - but not many.  Finding out what they want, what they are willing to commit to buy, requires closed-ended questioning.  Once a prospect has indicated that they want the benefits of your product or service, some open-ended question are warranted.

You see, effective selling is all about commitments - mutual commitments.  And, the most effective way to arrive at commitments is with closed-ended questions.  The big problem is that most salespeople don't understand the theory and mechanics of commitments.  In reality, commitments are what closes sales.  Closing is most effective when it opens the sale and drives the entire sales process.  The High Probability Selling process typically involves at least 25 closing commitments, all arrived at with closed-ended questions.

That is how almost all of the top one-percent of salespeople actually sell.  That's what makes the High Probability Selling different from the sales methods that you already know, and (maybe) still believe in.  Can you afford to go on using ineffective sales methods to support your family and power your ambitions?  Note the closed-ended question, then read it again - and give yourself an honest answer.

If your answer is that you're ready to give up what doesn't work, and forge ahead to outstanding success, Contact Us.