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First of all, what are they??

Well, they are simply open-ended questions. You need them because everyone can say yes and no without giving much thought to it, but as a salesperson, you need a credible information about your customer to prove that they are willing to make the purchase. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. So to make your time valuable you ask little questions and listen a lot to what your prospect is saying.

There are two types of questions like primitive 1-off open-ended questions and layering questions.

1-off open-enders are just any questions where prospects have to explain their process, reasoning and so on, but layering questions are where the money’s at. They are extremely powerful tools that top closers use to confirm a sale before the prospect is even beginning to think of a deal. They are a little direct and requires a masterful phrasing, but can give you a vast amount of information that even customer himself isn’t aware of. Or readjust his beliefs towards certain processes.

The importance of open-ended questions reveals itself when we take a look at human psychological aspect. People no matter their position or skill level, always place themselves above average.

However, the upside is if you make them say what you want to hear, they will claim it as a truth and will be more willing to pick up your solution. You just have to put the pressure on and make it obvious that they are experiencing issues. This is where the open-ended question comes. They say it themselves! Of course, questions have to be masterfully picked and you have to guide them to that realization.

Let’s have a look at basic 1-off open-enders:

They are really any question that can be answered with more than yes/no. Here a few examples:

  1. Tell me about…?
  2. How do you determine…?
  3. What do you like about…?
  4. How would you improve…?
  5. What’s been your experience with…?
  6. How do your customers react to…?

Now yeah, they will provide you with a good amount of information, it may be even enough to close the deal. But if you want to step up your game, you have to start using layering questions.

Layerings usually are used to amplify their response. To find the reasoning behind such answers. They are your bread and butter if you want to take on the deals that are worth your time. Check our previous article about TED talks and especially Simon Sinek’s talk about leadership. In his talk there is a very similar approach on importance behind the question “Why?”. It is highly applicable in successful deal scenarios.

When it comes to the use of layering questions, they are followed up after 1-off open-enders. Since they reveal all specifics about the subject. It is highly important to use a strong open-ender to prepare for your layering question. Because you might end up questioning silly questions and irritating your customer. Trust me, with great power, comes great responsibility. You don’t want to appear like a clown in front of your client worth 7-digits and possibly lose the opportunity entirely.

I will give you some examples of layering questions, but they are pretty simple to create on your own. To make a layering question, you just have to use any active verb. The use of active verbs is mandatory. It makes them think. Do you remember how teachers in high-school used to ask you questions in front of the whole class? It gets your blood pumping and you immediately start thinking to come up with some answer. It’s same here, only now, you are the teacher.

Here are some example of layering questions:

  1. Why is that…
  2. Tell me more…
  3. Explain what you said…
  4. Could you clarify on…
  5. Expand on that for me…
  6. Can you elaborate…
  7. What would that look like…

These are the questions where you the magic happens, where you reveal those hidden pain points of your customers and solve them with your product. Let me know if they you use them, in the comments and what benefits do they bring to you? Why is that so?

Meanwhile, be sure to check out our list of sales questions to match the most common personas, I’m sure it will help you if you stuck at some point.


by Jonas Matkevicius

Jonas is a marketing specialist at SalesChakra. He is a certified inbound marketer who drives social media engagement and optimizes content for audiences. He loves to write on sales, non profits and entrepreneurship.