How improving your Questioning Technique can boost your Business

The ability to ask powerful, relevant and incisive questions in any given scenario is one of the most useful and beneficial tools of the trade for any leader, sales or business manager or salesperson. In conjunction with effective listening, using the correct questioning techniques can grab attention and engage the respondent, tease out vital information and even subtly persuade them to agree with your point of view. Leadership training specialists Maguire Training can help delegates to harness the power of questioning techniques via their excellent Questioning & Listening Skills course. This equips managers and salespeople with the knowledge and techniques they need in order to use listening and questioning skills to their best advantage.


The five commonest types of question

One important aspect of improving your questioning technique is recognising the different types of questions that may be asked and the style of response they will elicit.

Closed questions prompt concise, factual answers. Examples of closed questions include 'how old are you'?, 'are you hungry'? and 'what is your nationality'?

Open questions invite the respondent to give more information and are a valuable means of opening a dialogue or discovering a person's knowledge or opinions in regard to a particular situation. 'What did you do at the weekend'? and 'In what ways do you think we could improve our customer service'? are examples of open questions.


Funnel questions , used in succession, focus upon and draw out information on a particular topic. For example: 'Which product do you currently use'?, 'Which of its features are most useful to you'?, 'How could we improve those features'?


Probing questions can be used to clarify a response or provoke information in greater detail. These can be useful in providing confirmation that you have fully understood the topic under discussion or for drawing out information that the respondent might not otherwise proffer. Probing questions are useful in staff recruitment, e.g. 'can you give me an example of an occasion when you provided outstanding customer service'?

Leading questions - usually closed questions are a useful means of steering a respondent to agree with your position e.g. 'our new product is a vast improvement on the previous version isn't it'? or 'as this meeting has been so productive, shall we all meet again in a week's time'?


Top tips for improving your questioning skills

  • The inappropriate use of a closed question once conversation is flowing can stop a valuable dialogue dead in its tracks and is best avoided.
  • Always ensure that, whatever type of question you may be asking, you allow sufficient time for the respondent to answer fully.
  • Plan your questioning strategy prior to your meeting. The goal is to gather as much information as possible in order to benefit from the situation without subjecting the respondent to an exhausting interrogation.
  • Make a note of which questions elicit the kind of response you're seeking as this will enable you to refine your questioning to the point at which you're almost automatically asking the 'right' questions. 


Improving your listening and questioning skills can benefit many areas of sales and management, helping you to gather information, build relationships, handle difficult customer or staff situations and influence others to share your point of view. Questioning & Listening Skills from Maguire Training is an invaluable course for maximising the power of these skills, and is conveniently available both as a classroom-based session or as an online training course via Maguire Training's outstanding E-learning platform.

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