Asking Powerful Question

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This week I delivered another Sales Masterclass where we examined how digitization is changing customer buying behaviors, why most sales approaches are no longer effective, what to do instead and how to thrive in our VUCA environment.

Instead of pitching, I urge sellers to learn how to have a coaching conversation with the customers.  And one can start by honing the skill of asking powerful questions

Asking power questions - a skill mastered by effective leaders, is crucial to the success of sales professionals in our age of disruption.  This skill helps us to connect, understand, learn from, collaborate with and co-create with others.

So what makes a question, powerful?  Well, they tend to share the following characteristics:

  • Open-ended
  • Curious in nature
  • Positive in tone
  • Clear, explicit, succinct
  • Stimulates reflections
  • Genuine - with the intent to understand or learn
  • Invites other perspectives and opinions
A powerful question that is provocative can put a halt to evasion and confusion, ignite the forward momentum that is required.

In Asia, our education system is set up to teach, evaluate and reward us for having the right answers.  We are penalized for getting the wrong answers.  Having the right answer triumphs asking a powerful question. It was not until I discovered coaching that I truly appreciate how powerful the skill of asking question could be!

With advances in technology, businesses are more global, knowledge & power are more dispersed than ever.  Being able to access the knowledge and insights of others quickly, timely & intelligently is key to sustain one's competitive edge.  We invest in machine learning & AI to enable our work and decision making.  However, how many companies and individuals are investing in mastering our uniquely human skills - such as to ask powerful questions with empathy - in order to learn from the people around us?

I think this skill is way under-rated.  What do you think?