Excerpted from Principle 7 of “Little Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer

Note from Bob:  Click “HERE” to read “Part Two.”

  • Ask the wrong questions. Get the wrong answers.
  • Ask smart questions, they think you’re smart.




  • Asking powerful questions will make prospects think in new ways.
  • What you ask sets the tone and the perception of the buyers.
  • What you ask determines their response.
  • What you ask makes or breaks the sale.
  • Your questions are a critical factor in the way your customers perceive you.

Ask the wrong questions. Get the wrong answers.

The most important aspect of making a sale—is also a major weakness of every salesperson. Asking questions.

It’s an enigma to me. Questions are so critical, you’d think it would be the topic of training every week. Yet salespeople are odds on favorites to have never taken one training program in the science of asking a question.

How critical? The first personal (rapport) question sets the tone for the meeting, and the first business question sets the tone for the sale. That’s critical. Benefits of asking the right question? Good question.

Here are 9.5 benefits to make sales by:

1. Qualify the buyer.

2. Establish rapport.

3. Create prospect disparity.

4. Eliminate or differentiate from the competition.

5. Build credibility.

6. Know the customer and their business.

7. Identify needs.

8. Find hot buttons.

9. Get personal information.

9.5 Close the sale.








All these answers come from asking the right questions. Power Questions.

Here’s the rub:

Do you have 25 of them—the most powerful questions you can create—at your fingertips?

No? Join the crowd. 95% of all salespeople don’t.

That could be why only 5% of salespeople rise to the top. Just a theory (or is it?).

Here’s the challenge:

Get every prospect and customer to say “No one ever asked me that before.”

Here are the 7.5 questioning success strategies:

1. Ask prospect questions that make him evaluate new information.

2. Ask questions that qualify needs.

3. Ask questions about improved productivity, profits or savings.

4. Ask questions about company or personal goals.

5. Ask questions that separate you from your competition—not compare you to them.

6. Ask questions that make the customer or prospect think before giving a response.

7. Ask Power Questions to create a BUYING atmosphere—not a selling one.

7.5 A critical success strategy: To enhance your listening skills, write down answers. It proves you care, preserves your data for follow-up, keeps the record straight, and makes the customer feel important.

How do you formulate a power question?

Here’s the secret:

There’s a secret to creating and asking the right type of Power Question. A question that makes them think (and respond) about me in terms of the prospect.

Sounds complicated—but it isn’t.

Here are some bad examples:

What type of life insurance do you have?

Do you have a pager?

Who do you currently use for long distance service?

All stink.

Here are some good examples:

If your husband died, how would the house payments be made?

How would the children go to college?

If your most important customer called right now, how would you get the message?

If your long distance charges were 30% higher than they should be, how would you know?











All make the buyer think and respond in terms of his own interests, and answer in terms of the seller. WOW!

Here’s a winner:

Scott Wells, of Time Warner Cable in Raleigh, came up with a grand-slam home-run question in training session—The objective was to ask a prospect qualifying questions about getting cable TV, and sell all premium channels possible. Scott asked “If you owned your own cable channel, Ms. Jones, what would be on it?” WOW, what a question—it draws out all the likes (and perhaps the dislikes) of the customer, and puts every answer in terms of the sale being made.

Here’s a series:

Let’s say I train sales teams (hey, what a coincidence, I do). Here’s a series of questions designed to make my prospect think about himself, and answer in terms of me. (Answers are not given here, and can sometimes play a part in question order, but you’ll get the process.)

  1. How many of your salespeople did not meet their sales goals last year?
  2. Why? (What was the major cause?)
  3. What plans have you made to ensure that they will this year?
  4. What type of personal development plan for each salesperson have you put into place?
  5. How do you support your sales staff?
  6. How much training did you budget last year?
  7. How much did you wish you’d have budgeted?
  8. When training takes place, how do you measure each individual’s professional development progress?

These eight questions will give me enough answers to rewrite their sales record book (and their checkbook).

It’s not just asking questions, it’s asking the right questions. A sale is made or lost based on the questions you ask. If you aren’t making all the sales you want—start by evaluating the specific wording of the questions you’re asking.

Your answers are in your questions.

Questions unlock sales. Uh, any questions?












Looking for a few Power Question lead-ins? Try these…

“What do you look for…?”

“What have you found…?”

“How do you propose…?”

“What has been your experience…?”

“How have you successfully used…?”

“How do you determine…?”

“Why is that a deciding factor…?”

“What makes you choose…?”

“What do you like about…?”

“What is one thing you would improve about…?”

“What would you change about…?” (Do not say, “What don’t you like about…?”)

“Are there other factors…?”

“What does your competitor do about…?”

“How do your customers react to…?”

To use questions successfully, they must be thought out and written down in advance. Develop a list of 15 to 25 questions that uncover needs, problems, pains, concerns, and objections. Develop 15 to 25 more that create prospect commitment as a result of the information you have uncovered.

Practice. After about 30 days of asking the right questions you’ll begin to see the real rewards.

Ask smart questions, they think you’re smart. Ask dumb…

It’s not hard sell, it’s heart sell.

“Good questions get to the heart of the problem/need/situation very quickly—without the buyer feeling like he or she is being pushed.” Jeffrey Gitomer

Jeffrey Gitomer


Jeffrey Gitomer is the King of Sales. For the past 25 years, and 13 best-selling books, and 2,500 corporate events, Jeffrey has helped shape the concept, the voice, and the implementation of the new sale. From Fortune 500 companies, to companies trying to earn a fortune, Jeffrey has traveled the globe helping sales teams.
Jeffrey also has the largest body of work available to you and your teams on-demand @  GitomerLearningAcademy.com  704-333-1112 is a 24/7/365 live answered phone designed to help you, or email Jeffrey personally @ salesman@gitomer.com


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