Overview

As you formulate and ask questions, pay attention to where they fall on the spectrum above. For every conversation, try to have two or three impact questions (not 10!). High-performing leaders and salespeople get better, more actionable information from their customers. Why? Because they ask better questions!

So, don’t be average in any sector of your life. Be a high-performer. Be 10X better than you’ve been.

These are great impact questions to be used in leading people and general conversation:

  • How many lifetimes’ worth of living are there in you?
  • Do you have a life philosophy? What is it?
  • What would you be doing if money were no object?
  • What do you value most and why? What are your non-negotiable values?
  • What might you be better at than, say, 99.5% of the population?
  • Walk me through how you would teach me something right now?
  • Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on
  • What is something you believe to be true, but has yet to be proven?
  • When you walk into a bookstore, what subjects are you drawn to and why? What captures your interest?
  • How do you organize your knowledge?
  • What are you hiring this milkshake to do?
  • What should I be asking you that I’ve left out?
  • If you could move to a place where history is being made right now, where would you go?
  • How did you play as a child?
  • What do you think your people say about you over dinner with their spouses/partners/friends?
  • Whose lives, primarily, are you out to change?
  • What’s at stake (for them) if you succeed or fail?
  • What does the promised land look like?
  • What are the obstacles of reaching the promised land, and how will you help overcome them?
  • What evidence can you offer that you can really make the story come true?
  • What are the biggest trends in this world right now?
  • And how do I shape my company to take advantage of these (and cushion my people from the worst effects of these trends)?
  • Do you have ways that people perceive that you would like to change?

These are great impact questions to be used in getting to know prospects (and clients):

  • What’s the single biggest lesson you’ve learned here in the past few years?
  • What would happen if you/your company stayed at status quo?
  • If you could focus more resources on one problem your company is facing, what would it be?
  • When you think about your company 5 years from now, what do you envision? What does it look like vs. today?
  • What one or two metrics are the most important—ones you track religiously? Why?
  • What is the smallest action you could take today to have the biggest impact?
  • Why isn’t your current provider/vendor working for you right now?
  • What’s holding you back from reaching your goals?
  • If you were able to make this happen, what would it mean for you personally?
  • If you don’t solve this challenge now, what difficulties will you face going forward?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • What does failure look like for you?
  • What characterizes the best partner you’ve ever had? What do they do differently?
  • What three words best describe you as an individual?
  • What kind of people succeed around here?
  • What is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance at work?
  • Reflect on a specific time when you were acting the way you were “born to act.” How can you repeat that behavior today?
  • If you had an unlimited budget, how would you pursue this effort?

These are impact questions that a great sales coach uses:

  • How do you absorb ambiguity from leadership and make goals and actions concrete for your sales team?
  • What skill will you work on this month with this salesperson?
  • How did you decide on that skill?
  • What is the customized coaching plan you will use to develop this skill?
  • Why do you think your performance here was so strong (or so weak) relative to your peers in this area of the funnel?
  • Reflecting on your qualitative observations and the metrics that we ran through, which skill do you think we should work on this month, and what’s the best way that I can help you with that skill?
  • Why does this prospect need our product today? What will be the implications if they don’t buy today?
  • Imagine it is six months from now and the problem we’re talking about solving is still not solved. What happens then? Will it really be that bad?

These are great impact questions that a kid will answer at the end of a long school day (because they aren’t the usual):

  • Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
  • What games did you play at recess?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  • Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  • What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  • Who made you smile today?
  • Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  • What new fact did you learn today?
  • Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  • What challenged you today?
  • Teach me to do something you learned this past week.
  • If I pulled your oldest child aside and asked him/her to describe you, what would he/she say?
  • If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  • What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  • If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  • If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  • Did anyone push your buttons today?
  • Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
  • What is your teacher’s most important rule?
  • What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  • Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?

These are great impact questions to be used in ‘keeping it fresh’ at home with spouses, partners and friends:

  • Did you listen to anything interesting today?
  • If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  • How much coffee did you drink today?
  • Will you remember any specific part of today a year from now? Five years?
  • Did you take any photos today? What did you photograph?
  • What app did you open most today?
  • What’s the best way to teach kids “character?”
  • How can I make your day easier in 5 minutes?
  • If we were leaving for vacation tonight, where do you wish we would be heading?
  • If you won $500 and had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?
  • If your day was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
  • What did you say today that you could have never expected to come out of your mouth?
  • What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  • When did you feel appreciated today?
  • If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow what would it be?
  • If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • Imagine committing the next year to learning one thing in your spare time. What would it be?
  • Did you give anyone side-eye today? What did they do to deserve it?
  • What do you wish you did more of today?
  • What do you wish you did less of today?
  • And finally…
  • Are you even listening to me right now?

These are great impact questions that Arthur Aron has shown to cause people to build trust and intimacy very quickly:

  • Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  • Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  • Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  • What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  • When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  • If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  • Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  • Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  • If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  • Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  • If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  • Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  • What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  • What do you value most in a friendship?
  • What is your most treasured memory?
  • What is your most terrible memory?
  • If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  • What does friendship mean to you?
  • What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  • Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
  • How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  • How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
  • Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
  • Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
  • If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  • Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
  • Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  • When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  • Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
  • What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  • If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
  • Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
  • Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  • Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

These are some interview questions that will push the conversation to a deeper place:

  • What rules should we be breaking?
  • That’s an interesting thought. What process did you go through to reach that conclusion?
  • What’s your biggest risk in this, and what’s your fallback position?
  • What do we need to do today to pull the future toward us and beat our competition to the future?
  • What if we did nothing at all, what would happen?
  • Are you passionate about this? If not, how do we make that happen?
  • What makes your culture unique and how do we protect that?
  • Aside from profit motive, how does this change lives – how does this make the world a better place?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What does this accomplish for us?
  • What can we do to drive decisions down closest to the point of impact?
  • What are people/you thinking, but afraid to express?
  • What can we do to operationalize our vision, values and strategy?
  • If we fail in this can we live with that?
  • How does this add value to our [fill in the blank]?
  • How will this impact [individual, team, business unit, competitive advantage, brand perception, customer delight, etc.]?
  • What are the greatest challenges you face in pulling this off, and how do you plan to deal with them?
  • What can I do to lead better?
  • Which markets, partners, clients, or other opportunities can add significant value to our business?
  • What’s your greatest current frustration and how can I help you with that?
  • Does this effectively and efficiently support our values, vision, and strategy? How? Why?
  • What’s our biggest miss, and how do we resolve it?
  • What will be the key performance indicators for this? How will we measure them, and what hurdles do we need to hit to be successful?
  • What are your biggest obstacles and barriers to success? What are your plans to deal with them and what do you need from me?
  • How do you know if all your resources are properly aligned and connected?
  • What is the one opportunity or skill you have gotten from [company] that you wouldn’t have gotten at any other company?
  • What the impact you’re most proud of that you’ve had on a client and seen in the marketplace?

Sources