The Value of Asking Questions

“The important thing is not to stop questioning,”

Albert Einstein

Silence is Golden


While some clients are eager to learn, they’ve been conditioned to stay quiet if they feel uncertain. And so, for fear of sounding silly, they don’t verbally explore the topics they really want help with. And that’s where you come in.

It starts with a gentle nudge. You might ask a client if they know the differences between whole, term and universal life insurance. And then you wait until they answer. They may meet you with silence, and yet you wait. Sometimes, this awkward silence is due to uncertainty, because they’re loathe to admit they haven’t done the research, or don’t know.

When working with clients, the one thing you don’t want to do is let them off the hook too quickly. Instead, you should encourage them to come up with the answer themselves, even if the answer is, “I don’t know.”The more you can stop and listen, the more you can encourage your clients to put concepts in their own words. This way, they’ll learn and build the confidence to speak about what you’re teaching them. If you think about it, the more they can take ownership of the concepts, the more likely they will be to follow through. After all, they’re not going to dismiss what they themselves have concluded.

As Kim Butler says, “It’s been a tough thing for us to learn, but we have started saying less and less and less, asking more and more, and being quiet. That’s what is going to help you get progress with your clients.”

“Compared to what?”

One of our favorite questions to ask clients can be found in a book by Daniel Pink, To Sell is Human. The question is, “Compared to what?”

Consider this for a moment. A client might quickly display a knee jerk reaction to life insurance and quip back with, “Oh, no thanks. That’s not for me. I’ve heard that life insurance has a poor rate of return…”

Asking, “Compared to what?” pulls the client back into the conversation. If you jump on the defensive, you’re both like two immovable objects…you’re not going to make any progress. Yet by this one simple question, you’re asking the client to dig deep and come up with a more rounded response.

The question quickly gets to the root of it–most of the time, the client doesn’t know how it compares, they’re simply repeating the things they’ve heard. Now, you’ve identified your clients’ exact objections, and the information you have, so you can explore and dispel myths.

What’s your favorite question to ask clients? Feel free to share in the comments.

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