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Asking Questions that Are Natural and Productive

Asking questions and avoiding questions. We've looked at every angle over the past three months here in the CONNECT2Sell Blog. Although we've mentioned this once before, it bears repeating because so many sellers get it wrong. Why? Because there are too many tools, books, training programs and managers who are trying to make things easier for you.

In their efforts to help you, these resources are hurting you. There's simply no way to shortcut when it comes to asking questions. You can't depend on a script or a list of prescribed questions. Every conversation is (and should be) different. Your prepared questions interfere with the natural course of the conversation. Asking questions that are natural is always more productive.

Asking Questions Should Not Be Scriptedcover for site 2015

This is the last precaution for asking questions. For sellers who are new to asking questions, it is tempting to rely on pre-scripted questions. After all, there are many resources for effective sales questions and planning ahead could eliminate some of the challenges related to asking the “wrong” questions and/or constructing less effective questions.

But scripted questions should be avoided. They aren’t natural, and they will interfere with the seller’s ability to stay in the moment and conduct an interchange of ideas and information. Scripting questions before a buyer meeting causes sellers to depend on what’s written and miss opportunities to ask follow-up questions stemming from natural curiosity. Scripted questions feel impersonal and manipulative to buyers.

The other significant risk of relying on scripted questions is the implication needs assessment is a one-time event. But sellers who are operating with a strategic plan to understand buyer needs will be prepared to ask questions at any time, as buyer needs change frequently and unexpectedly.

Asking Questions Takes Practice. But It's Worth It!

Sellers who master the skills of question-asking won’t need to depend on scripted questions. Instead, they will be fully equipped at any time to steer conversations with buyers so they can readily identify actionable needs, avoid asking manipulative questions, properly sequence questions to drill down from broad buyer needs to narrower needs linked to their own products, and advance sales smoothly.

Avoiding the wrong questions leaves room for the right ones.

Next Steps:

  • To learn more about DISCOVER Questions® and how to get connected in meaningful ways with your buyers, order your copy of this bestseller from Amazon.com
  • When you need sales or management coaching, customized sales training, or a dynamic speaker call us at 408-779-PFPS or book an appointment with Deb.
  • Check out these resources for sales managers and front line sellers. New webinars, infographics, research, podcasts and more added every month!


The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection.

Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author and Top 50 Sales Influencer, is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach.

Topics: asking questions, buyer needs, CONNECT2SELL Blog, DISCOVER Questions™, needs assessment, question types

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