An Article From the Office of Dave Kahle
Q. In your seminar, you used the question “Anything else?” as one of your ‘really good sales questions’. I see it as a close-ended question. Is “What else can I do?” as effective, or more or less effective?
A. What a great question. Let me applaud you for thinking this deeply about the language in the questions that you use. This “thinking about it before you do it” is one of my key commandments for success in sales. And this kind of thoughtful discussion brings out the best in all of us.
I’m sticking with “Anything else?” as a “really good sales question.” Yes, it is a close-ended question, but that doesn’t make it bad. There is a time and place for close-ended questions. Remember, “Anything else?” is always used to follow up on some piece of information the customer has given you. Typically, it follows an open-ended question, as in, “Tell me what you look for in a vendor.”
Here’s the scenario. You ask an open-ended question, like “Tell me what you look for in a vendor.”
The customer explains something like, “stable company, responsive customer service, market pricing…”
Your response? “OK. Anything else?”
At this point, you’ll generally receive one of two answers: Either some more explanation or information from the customer, or the answer, “no.” Either of those two answers is good. More explanation gives you more information, and that’s good. “No” tells you there is no more, that you have acquired all the pertinent information, and that’s good.
The real difference between “Anything else?” and “What else can I do?” is the purpose to the question. “Anything else?” solicits information, and can be used in a broader set of circumstances. See the example above. “What else can I do?” is a more specific question, probing deeper into a more narrow range of possibilities. For example, you couldn’t use “What else can I do?” to follow up on the “Tell me what you look for in a vendor” lead.
There is also an implied commitment to the “What else can I do?” question. The implication is that you will do what he/she asks you to do. Since you are asking, “What else can I do,” it implies that you are willing and able to do more. And that may not be the case. Asking this question may force you into the uncomfortable position of saying “No” to the customer. For example, suppose you say, “What else can I do?” and the customer says, “Drop your price by 10% and deliver twice a week.” You know you can’t do that, so you say, “I can’t do that,” thereby interjecting a negative into the conversation. You would have been better off not bringing it up.
Once again, thanks for bringing this up. This is the kind of dialogue about the specifics of our job that makes us all better.
By the way, you’ll find this kind of insight into dozens of sales issues in our Sales Resource Center. It houses 435 training programs to help everyone live more successfully and sell better. All delivered over the internet, 24/7, for one low monthly fee.
And check out Question Your Way to Sales Success for the ultimate handbook for sales people on asking better sales questions.
Want to comment on this article? Visit our blog.