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The Wisdom of the Right Question

2 min readJuly 9, 2021

Asking great questions is probably the most effective way to make yourself valuable to your buyers.

Not talking or presenting. Asking questions.

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” So said Thomas Berger, the famous American author.

Acquiring knowledge is one important purpose of asking questions. You can’t learn about your buyer if you aren’t asking them good questions.

The late Clayton Christensen had one of the most insightful descriptions about the importance of asking great questions. He wrote “Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you have not asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go.”

That’s great imagery. We are full of questions. That’s all we have. And until we ask that first question, until we unlock it and put it out there, we don’t have room for answers in our mind.

Here’s the thing. By asking great questions you’re not only making room for answers in your mind. You’re doing the same for the buyer.

What’s a great question? I believe it is one for which the buyer doesn’t have an answer. A question that causes them to stop and think.

W.S. Merwin, was among the greatest of our American poets. In an interview he addressed the topic of wisdom. He said, “I think the indirect kind of wisdom is the interesting one anyway…The wisdom should probably take the form of a question that you can’t answer.”

So it is in sales.

Often the best wisdom you can deliver to your buyers is in the form of a question they can’t readily answer.

I call this type of question an Insight Question.

An insight question usually is one that asks the buyer something about their business that they should know the answer to. But don’t. They pause to think.

Insight questions demonstrate a level of understanding and acumen about the buyer’s business that immediately engage their attention and interest.

Buyers are becoming so conditioned to answering the same set of scripted superficial questions from sellers that their answers have become scripted. Insight questions break from the script.

As importantly, insight questions are themselves triggers for questions. Ask an insight question that forces a buyer to stop and think, and their typical response will be a question. Which makes room in their mind for the answer(s) you give.

And lead your buyers to consider the value you offer, and wisdom, in a different light.

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