Let’s pick up on this theme of listening and being comfortable with silence. If you can exert mastery over your tendency to fill silence, all kinds of good things accrue. First, you make room for dialogue, not monologue. For conversation, not just empty give and take.
Then, you give yourself an opportunity to really understand what someone is saying. This understanding comes through the questions you ask, and there are three types of questions.
The Three Types of Questions Used In a Sales Conversation
Closed-ended questions are those that yield a one word answer. “How are things?” “Good.” Very informative!
Open-ended questions go a bit farther and yield a longer answer; “What have you been working on?” “Not falling asleep.” Okay, that’s a start.
Impact questions go all the way. These are questions that ask someone to actually think; “Given what you just said, how will you change the way you approach that next time?” “Hmmm…let me think.” Now we’re talking. There is real substance to the conversation. We move beyond transactional conversation to a deeper level that causes both you and I to think deeply about an issue.
Why Impact Questions Are King
You have asked tons of impact questions. You know you have, because you get the “Good question…let me think” response. This is almost always good. It means you have honored your partner in conversation enough to think about and ask an impact question. And you have offered that person the chance to really think something through.
There’s nothing wrong with closed and open-ended questions, but they function more like transactions than relationships. What they are best-suited for is breaking up the flow of your impact questions, since if you ask TOO many impact questions, you can easily exhaust and annoy your conversation partner.
Next time you are walking into a meeting or a social situation, take a pause and make an impact.