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How To Ask A Question To Get A Meaningful Response

by Jason Sanders on January 7, 2010 · 1 comment

in Networking,Sales,Thoughts

A short shallow answer can feel like a snub.  Have you ever been blown off by a one word answer?  Chances are you asked the wrong question.  Believe it or not there’s a formula for asking questions and if you don’t get it right you will receive an answer that probably won’t be helpful.

It turns out that the complexity of a question is inversely related the detail of the answer that you will receive.  Long detailed questions generate short shallow answers.  Why is that?

A long detailed question only requires the person you’re asking to confirm the details that you presented.  Short questions require the person you’re asking to provide the details.  The difference between asking a long question and asking a short question can be the difference between you knowing what you know and you knowing what they know.  Think about that.

So if you’ve had problems getting the information you were asking for, try on these questions for size:



Could you explain that?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? (Just Kidding!)

To really get your potential customer on your wave length, ask a question about the problem that you solve.  I’ll bet you’ve had a life insurance salesman ask you how you would pay for a funeral if something unexpected happened.  An unpleasant question, but it got you to thinking, didn’t it?  If you can tailor a question around the problem that you solve, inevitably some good follow up questions will arise, no matter what the response is.

In a marketplace where consumers are committed to doing their own research online, and many times will contact you for your services (instead of the other way around), it is more important than ever to get your consumers to open up and talk to you about their problems so that you can determine the most efficient and effective solution.  Asking the right questions is a key part of executing your value proposition.  How about networking?  If you don’t thoroughly understand the business of the person sitting across the table from you, you might miss an opportunity to refer them business and all the benefits of a referral relationship.  Asking the right questions is crucial!

What are some questions that are your favorites?  I’d love to hear your responses in the comment section!

Jason Sanders @ValuePagesGroup
Business Networking Specialist

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