Asking Sales Questions: Leading or Empowering Prospects

Sales Questions

“He explained to me with great insistence that every question
possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.”
Elie Wiesel, Author

Selling Tip: Asking questions of your prospect can either open the way for more conversation and build trust or shut down a prospect's interest in speaking with you.

Last post, I talked about the idea that selling is all about a relationship. I discussed how being impulsive can turn off prospects, especially if you want to tell them why your product is what they need BEFORE they are ready to listen to you talk about your products.

To recap, here is an analogy for what uncontrolled impulses look like:

You are standing at your prospect’s front door to her house. Your impulse to rush to tell her about your products before she is ready to listen to you is equivalent to shoving your way past her into her home and you never received an invitation to enter her home.

Now, let’s move into another area that salespeople can work against themselves when talking to prospects – Asking sales questions.

There are two categories of questions that salespeople can ask their prospects and each has specific impacts on prospects.

  1. Questions that lead your prospects to an answer that you want them to have so you can sell to them
  2. Questions that empower your prospects to uncover their needs by answering your questions

Questions that LEAD your prospects will immediately cause your prospects to question what your intentions are in the conversation. This affects how they feel about you and your integrity.

I heard a leading question from a health consultant recently, "Our services are designed to help women over 40 lose weight faster, wouldn't you agree?"

This type of question is leading because it doesn’t give the prospect an open pathway to answer freely. This kind of question will too easily be perceived by the prospect as manipulative.

Questions that EMPOWER your prospects will provide them with a sense trust in you and double your credibility.

Non-leading questions allow prospects to validate that their needs are important and can be met by your service.

Let's change the leading question above into a non-leading one:

“Now that you know more about how our services can help women over 40 lose weight, what is important to you about what you heard?"

BIG difference in the intent and energy of these questions!

Photo by Adam Ciesielski on

Tonya Harvey grew up on Army posts around the U.S. Her career started in male dominated sales, where she learned all the sales tactics that are awkward for women. Today, the mission of her sales consultancy and training company is to “change views of selling.”

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