Asking Questions to Win Sales: How to Improve Your Effective Communication and Listening Skills

In sales, the most important factor to effective communication is for you to improve your listening skills. You must learn to start asking questions and listen attentively, without interruptions. As a rule, you pay attention to people you most value.  When you pay close attention to another person when he or she is speaking, you signal to that person that you very much value him or her and the content of their comments. This is very flattering to another person and it causes them to respond warmly to your attentiveness.

Lack of Effective Communication Skills

The major reason that most people have poor listening skills is that they are busy preparing a reply while the other person is still speaking. In fact, they are not even listening closely to what the other person is saying. They are thinking of other things and formulating their comments to be ready as soon as the other person takes a breath.

But this isn’t for you. Effective communication and listening skills requires that you face the other person directly, lean slightly forward, and hang onto every word. Improve your listening skills by listening as though there were nothing else in the world more fascinating to you than what the other person is saying. The very best conversationalists seem to have developed the knack of making the person that they are listening to feel as if he or she were the only person in the world. Good conversationalists with effective communication skills can do this in the middle of a crowded room.

Dale Carnegie once wrote that, “Rapt attention is the highest form of flattery.”  If you want to flatter a person and cause him or her to think highly of you, just pay close, undivided attention to every single word he or she says, as though he or she were about to give you the winning lottery number and would only repeat it once.  You will be amazed at how much more conversant a person becomes and how much happier they are with you when you show them that you have effective communication and listening skills.

Active Listening Skills

In addition to listening without interrupting, you should also nod, smile and agree with what the person is saying. Be active rather than passive. Indicate that you are totally engaged in the conversation. Make eye contact as the other person talks. Relax your body and if you are standing, allow your weight to roll forward onto the balls of your feet. Only you will know that you have done this, but the overall impression you will give the speaker is that your whole energy is now forward and focused on what he or she is saying.

How do you get this opportunity to listen so well?  Simple!  Start asking questions that are good and pointed, and keep asking questions one after the other.

Asking Questions

In effective communication, there are three powerful questions you can use to control any conversation, to open up the other person, and to get the other person talking extensively about himself or herself.

The first question, when you meet a new person is, “What sort of work do you do?” By asking questions that are easy, general, and that do not demand information on the person’s current job or position, it gives the individual the choice of answering you briefly or in depth.

Your second question, to follow the first is, “How did you get into that line of work anyway?” Start asking questions as though you are absolutely fascinated by the choices that he or she made to get into that particular field. Most people feel that their personal career paths are among the most fascinating stories ever told on earth. When you start asking questions about how they got into their current line of work, they will usually be very pleased to tell you about the various twists and turns of their life and career and the factors that lead ultimately to them doing the job they are doing at the current time.

The third question you can ask, when the other person hesitates to check to see if you are really interested or if you are just making conversation, is, “And then what did you do?” This third question can be used to keep almost any conversation going indefinitely. You can ask, “How did you happen to move to this city?” or “How did you happen to go to work for that company?” or “How did you happen to choose this sport or activity?” People will be more than willing to answer these questions for you and when they slow down, for any reason, you smile pleasantly and ask, “And then what did you do?” You will be amazed at the responses.

I hope you enjoyed this article on effective communication and listening skills. By asking questions to your customers, you’ll improve your relationship with them and learn to close more sales. Please comment and share with your friends!

Topics included in this article include

Effective Communication

Listening Skills

Asking Questions

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

  • Lennert

    Great article! This mindset of communication will boost your results, strengthen your relationships and create more success.

    It is also interesting to know that verbal words only constitute 7% of what a person takes away from a conversation, the rest is nonverbal.

    – To improve verbal communication: There are 6 major elements of effective sales communication; assertiveness, authenticity, open mindedness, empathy, clarity and listening. You should think which areas cause you the most friction in your communication. When you figure out which ones these are, you will need to work on that for the next 30-90 days to become a master.
    Listening is the most important one. People want to feel that you hear them, so let them know you are listening. Be an active listener by being invested in the conversation – nod your head, make little comments, like “I see”, “alright”, “oh interesting point”, or ask questions to be engaged and show them you want to know more.

    – To improve nonverbal communication:
    Handshake: Strong and firm, try to initiate
    Eyes: Eye contact at least half of the time
    Body: Straight up and lean slightly forward
    Legs: Never cross legs, it indicates you are holding back something

    This article is a detailed guide on how to master sales communication and how to create consistent results:

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