Sales can be a heartbreaking process. Or not. If you’d prefer it was not, here’s a plan.

A few years ago, I sat in a cafe, coffee cooling, heart sinking, a prospective client in front of me. But I knew where this sales conversation would end—in a ‘no’. I had a service I knew would help this person. Somehow, I could never get it across. I left every meeting despondent.

Today, I love sitting down with prospective clients. I know by the end of it, they have learned heaps about themselves and about my services. Both of us are clear about whether my approach would serve their needs. I leave each meeting feeling respected and connected.

The secret? A lesson from sales expert @RachelBourke. From Rachel, I learned to turn my sales process into a coaching session. In other words, to ask questions. Through these questions, I discover what matters to my prospective clients and why, and what is standing in their way.

People are generous when you ask them questions; they usually answer with great honesty. My questions also help them discover their priorities.

Questions transform relationships. They melt resistance and build respect, understanding and, in turn, connection.

Why authors must ask questions

Authors must answer all the questions in the minds of their readers if they want their book to resonate—the big question that made their reader pick up the book, and all the little questions along the way that pop into your readers’ minds. Which means authors must ask themselves the questions their readers want to be answered (one reason it’s quite hard to write a book).

Why leaders must ask questions

Asking questions takes confidence. We all feel a bit vulnerable when we as questions. Learning how to design a question, sequence questions, and ask them with intention builds confidence. And curiosity increases adaptability, flexibility and intelligence. Any leaders need more of that?

Why experts must ask questions

Every expert built their knowledge by asking a question and searching for the answer. The trick is never to stop. Answers to questions are changed by time, context, experience, feedback. Yes, we share our knowledge as we find it, but we never stop.

PS: You might also like A really good question to ask yourself as you head into the new financial year.