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Taking the ‘lead in’ questions

It is not easy asking leading questions. No wonder – it is hardly natural.  You would wouldn’t walk up to someone you didn’t know in the pub and ask them leading questions, would you?


“You’d like to buy me a drink, wouldn’t you?”

“You’re nice would you like my number?”


Asking leading questions outside of the courtroom is weird and almost rude.  Instead try telling a story about your business through leading questions as if you were in a court room. 


It might be a client’s story, a story of missed opportunities or failure to see the benefits perhaps.  There are numerous stories you can tell – pick your story, and then tell it with leading questions.


Get the other person saying yes from the beginning and throughout the story as much as you can.  Keep them, if at all possible, from saying no.  A no response is the most difficult handicap to overcome.  When your customer says no I don’t want or need that, all their pride insists that they remain consistent with their decision.  Even if they later think the no was wrong. 

So don’t begin by focussing on things on which you differ. Begin by emphasising and keep on emphasising on the things that you agree.  In a business setting getting a yes response means that your potential client is more likely to buy into your solution if you get them to agree; assuming, of course that it is in their interest.

·         “Hi my name is Laura, Laura McHarrie and you are – Paul Booker? 

·         You’re that guy who owns ooops!

·         The cosmetic vehicle repair company in Poole just behind Makro – right?

·         Excellent – I have heard great things about you. You’re pretty much the entrepreneur aren’t you?

·         I expect you’ve learnt a lot since you started ooops?

·         I bet you’ve spent quite a bit of time and money on personal development over the years?

·         So you must recognise how important it is to learn as much as you can from experts in their field?

·         If you had the opportunity locally to attend a series of expert master classes facilitated by a Cert Ed qualified trainer to ensure you get a tool kit that will help you apply the learning to your business directly – you’d be quite interested, right?

·         And if were to tell you that these master classes were heavily subsidised by the government at £150 for all six – would that make this opportunity seem even more interesting?

·         Let’s meet up on Tuesday or Wednesday next week to go through the programme and get you signed up, if it suits your needs?

·         Excellent does 2 pm sound ok?”


As I mentioned earlier, it’s not normal to ask leading questions. It is unlikely the whole conversation will end up as depicted above.  But the story allows you to practice the words and the message.  Come up with your own story that gets your business message across using the yes response technique. But use an inanimate object as practicing on your partner is likely to end you up in divorce court!


1. Limit your questions to ONE fact per question.  Two or more will simply confuse the story.


2.  You can use the tone of your voice to indicate that the statement is really a question. You don’t need to add do you, would you, couldn’t you to the end of each question.


Once you develop your command of leading questions, something amazing will happen. You will stop client, staff and maybe your teenagers from evading your questions.


Get the willing yes (could you – would you mind?)


One of the most common mistakes in asking for support is in the use of could and can; instead of would and will.  Theoretically, could is a question that gathers information; would, however is a request. 


John Gray said “Some people will think this is a big deal over nothing.  Could you, can even seem more polite than would you?”  But there is a big difference to some.  Could you put the rubbish out means are you capable of putting the rubbish out.  Unless you are incapable of putting the rubbish out you have no alternative but to say yes.  But you are not agreeing to actually put the rubbish out.


urlTip 1 People are more willing to say yes if they have the freedom to say no.  If you extend the question to would you mind?  It softens it even more.


Tip 2 Whilst you ought to ask a question believing you will get a yes, accept with graceful ok if they say no and move on.  The chances are the next time you ask – that same person (remembering your grace) may be more willing to say yes.  It is worth remembering that research shows that most people don’t buy until they have been asked five times.  Most sales people stop asking after the third time.


Tip 3 The third tip is to remain quiet in the face of grumbling.  The act of grumbling is a sign that your request is being considered.  Do not interrupt just listen.  One of the key elements of assertive asking is to remain silent after you have asked.


So there you have it – some tips on:  Why direct questions are important, how you can use them and how you can develop your skills in using them.


Sources and further reading material:


How to Ask Leading Questions by Elliott Wilcox

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray

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