Ten years ago when I worked at Intuit, my sales manager was one of the best salespeople I ever met. This guy was high energy, super intelligent, and had an engaging personality.
I remember during one meeting, he was imploring our team to ask more questions. He said, "The last customer I talked to pointed out that I hadn't said anything and she was convinced!"
That statement blew my mind. It seemed like it would be so much easier to just ask questions instead of trying to convince people they should buy web design services.
People Believe What They Say, Not What They Hear
This change in strategy opened the floodgates for me in selling. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. All I needed was the right idea and the right questions.
As I moved up into management, I wanted to teach my team how to do the same, so I started listening to my own calls a lot more.
I realized there were only three types of questions I was asking. And I often asked them in a certain order, too.
The Empathetic Question Sequence
Any salesperson worth their weight will tell you that empathy is key for being a top performer. What they don't often tell you is what that really means.
Plain and simple, empathy means the other person feels like you 'get them'. That can't happen unless you ask a lot of questions - and not just surface level questions.
You need to dig below the surface.
That's why I created the Empathetic Question Sequence:
What / Why / How Questions
'What' questions ask the status of the opportunity, opinion, belief, goal, or challenge. Here are some examples:
What systems are you using right now?
What made you decide to reach out?
What would you prefer?
'Why' questions probe deeper into the answer given to the what question. Here are some examples:
Why do you say that?
Why didn't you look into fixing this sooner?
Why is that particular goal important to you?
'How' questions move the needle and create a realistic vision of the future or a frank assessment of the present situation. Here are some examples:
How do you know that's the reason?
How else have you tried to solve this issue?
How will you reach your goal if you don't do anything?
Go out and create your own sequences that dig deep into your customer's goals and pain, and watch your sales results EASILY double overnight.