Descriptive Sales Questions: Forcing Thinking




Everyone knows and agrees that asking questions is extremely important for Sales Professionals. Earlier today I read this excellent post on the topic of open and closed questions by Sales Guru, Stephan Derksen. The post provides excellent specific examples and suggestions you can easily use in your own sales work for information gathering, qualifying, and building rapport – go read it!

What is not covered by this specific post is how to challenge clients to think. In a world where all content is available on the internet and clients can seek out their own solutions and form their own opinion online without ever speaking to a Sales Professional. That makes it vital for Sales Professionals to be able to ask questions that force clients to think for themselves about what they’re looking for.

Descriptive Questions

Using descriptive questions as a standard component in your dialogue with clients will force clients to think and at the same time share with your client that you are a Sales Professional who will take them beyond what they might be able to find online. You bring perspective, critical thinking, new questions, an open mind, and no fear of losing.

Descriptive questions that challenge your client usually start at the beginning of the dialogue you’re having with the client and include questions like:

  • Describe to me your current process for doing…
  • Tell me about…
  • Walk me through the steps…
  • Describe for me…
  • Help me to understand the criteria for…
  • Clarify for me how you would…
  • Take me through…
Avoid the combination of the intros above with a traditional Wh-question as that defies the purpose.

Remember that descriptive questions by no means removes the need for other types of questions in your dialogue. You still use open and closed questions. Just make sure to use the right types of questions at the right stages in your conversation. Try using the following rule of thumb:

  • Descriptive questions exist to challenge clients to think about needs and solutions in a very broad sense;
  • The 5Ws are mostly used for information gathering, qualifying, and establishing rapport;
  • Closed questions are usually used for confirmation, to accelerate decisions, and close deals.

Do practice descriptive questions in your sales work. Let me know how you fare, and do share your experience in the comments section.

Good selling!

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