To Sell or Not to Sell, That is the Question.

To Sell or Not to Sell, That is the Question.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Two of the most important aspects of selling are asking questions and listening. The proper questions will make the prospect tell you everything you need to sell him or her.

Effective listening skills will give you the power and selfdiscipline to uncover facts/needs and then formulate a response that moves the buyer to a decision.

Man that sounds so simple.

So why doesn’t everyone buy when you try to sell them? Because…

  1. You’re not doing an effective job of asking questions.
  2. You’re not doing an effective job of listening to the prospect.
  3. You have a preconceived notion about the prospect prejudging the type of person, anticipating answers and interrupting dialog.
  4. You think you already know all the answers, so why bother asking questions or listening with full attention.
  5. You have not uncovered the true needs of the prospect. How can you satisfy needs if you don’t know what they are?

The most effective sales call is 25% talking and 75% listening.

How does that compare to what you do? “Oh, that doesn’t apply to me,” you say, “my product is different I need to talk more.” Bullblank. That’s just an excuse. What you’re really saying is I don’t know how to ask a question effectively.

How do you ask a question? In a word, open-ended. Avoid yes or no questions unless you’re sure yes is a slam dunk as in a tie down question.

Below are 12.5 challenges to the types and styles of questions you ask:

  1. Is the question clear and concise? Does the prospect understand the question, it’s meaning, content and implication.
  2. Does the question require productive thinking before the prospect can formulate a response? Have you put the prospect on the path toward your product or service as a result of the question.
  3. Does the question force the prospect to evaluate new information or concepts? Are you building prospect credibility by asking superior questions that don’t make him feel inferior, but does challenge him in a new way.
  4. Does the question make you seem more knowledgeable than your competitors by probing in new areas? Are you separating yourself from the competition by asking questions the competition never thought to ask?
  5. Does the question lead the prospect (and you) to draw from past experience? Are you asking the prospect questions that make him or her share things they are proud of? These are not only sales questions, they are rapport building questions.
  6. Does the question generate a response that the prospect has never thought of before? New twists make you seem different, better, at the top of your game.
  7. Does the question provide a tie down answer that moves the presentation process closer to a close? Using question lead in or ending words like don’t you, isn’t it, shouldn’t you, doesn’t it, provides you with the opportunity for the prospect to say yes to a particular part of your presentation and move on to the next area.
  8. Does the question relate directly to the prospect’s (business) situation? The more direct the question, the more likely you are to get a direct response.
  9. Does the question relate directly to the prospect’s objectives? Are you probing in areas that the prospect can relate to? Areas that make the prospect commit to real answers.
  10. Does the question draw information from the prospect that helps you make the sale easier? Questions about how your product/service will be used, what are his/her expectations.
  11. Does the question create an atmosphere that is positive and conducive to make a sale? Is the question provocative or provoking? Don’t make the prospect mad when you ask a question, make him think.
  12. Are you asking a question back when a prospect asks you one? Prospect Can I get delivery in two weeks? Salesperson Is that when you need it delivered?

12.5 And of course the ultimate question Are you asking a closing question? A question the answer to which confirms the sale. Do you have 10 or 12 different closing questions written down to rehearse and use as the occasion arises? I’ll bet you don’t.

Want to master this science? Write two or three questions that responds to each of the twelve challenges above, and incorporate them into your selling process. If you do, I’ll make you two promises.

  1. It will be very difficult.
  2. The reward for doing it will make you a better, more financially rewarded salesperson forever.

Questions are to sales as breathing is to life. If you fail to ask them you will die. If you ask them incorrectly your death won’t be immediate but it’s inevitable. If you ask them correctly, the answer is a sale.

The question is the most important skill a salesperson should master…
The importance of asking one properly lies somewhere between sale and no sale.


I’ll send you 10.5 Unstoppable Power Questions. These questions will get you the information you need to make a WOW! impression and make the sale. Just go to, register and enter the word POWER in the GitBit box.