Framing Questions!

Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
~ Tony Robbins

A market researcher and a sales person both ask questions. A market researcher frames questions in a manner that the interviewee speaks ‘his own’ mind while a sales person frames questions to make the prospect speak ‘salesperson’s’ mind.

A market researcher ‘finds’ clues to get to the answer while a salesperson ‘gives’ clues to get you to the answer.

Let us take a simple example.  Suppose the product is a workshop on ‘Negotiation Skills’.

If a Raju is a Market Researcher who has to do ‘Need Analysis’ for the seminar then his question would be:

  1. How good you think you are at Negotiating?
  2. How often do you enter into negotiations in a week?
  3. At what price would you like to attend this seminar?’
  4. On which Sunday of the coming month can you attend the seminar?

Now, if Raju is a sales person who has to sell the seminar his question would be:

  1. We all think we are good at negotiation. But the fact is negotiation is an art and science which can be best learnt from the professionals. I am sure you don’t succeed in every negotiation. And sometimes it costs a lot. Does it not? Don’t you think a seminar on negotiation skill can help you?
  2. A survey says that on an average a person is negotiating 2-3 times daily. By the way how often do you enter into a situation where negotiate? With your customers, employees, wife, children even yourself! What do you think?
  3. Quality always comes at a premium and that is why your neighbor Mr Sharma has enrolled for it. I am sure you won’t mind paying Rs 3000/- to get this power tool. How many seats should I block for your organisation sir?
  4. Wise people would attend this seminar even on a Monday. We are keeping this on next Sunday. Won’t you come?

From the above example it is clear that an MR has to be emotionless while asking. He should just ask the question in pure vanilla style; without any adjectives to get the true individual opinion.  A market researcher would rarely use words like ‘won’t, isn’t’.

A salesperson has to push emotions, biases, clues, tell a story. In the above example all the while as a salesperson Raju was not asking you any questions; he was in-fact guiding you to the answers. A salesperson asks plain vanilla question only when he has to understand the need and paying ability etc. Once he is sure about these aspects he shows his true skills of guiding you to the answer. A salesperson often uses words like ‘won’t you?, isn’t it?’ to guide you to his answers.

Often businessmen, while doing research ask questions like a sales man and thus end up doing research in a wrong way. They are often in love with their idea and so due to passion and eagerness they behave like a salesman, which leads to a biased feedback from the respondent. The respondents might need to be educated about a new product/ service but they should never be influenced.

The intelligence lies in knowing what to be while asking a question and then acting accordingly.

Finally to end here is a quote for you:

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers ~ Voltaire

Happy Questioning!


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