If Your Question Is Longer Than Two Lines, You Probably Aren’t Asking the Best Question.

Stop and take a moment to think about the kinds of questions you ask your prospects. Is your tendency to ask long, overly-focused questions or short, open-ended questions? As a Business Development Professional, it is critical to understand the value of a good question since it is the primary way to gather valuable Intel. However, it is important to note that not all questions are created equal. Over the years we have found that short, simple questions often elicit a more valuable and complete response. As you deliver your question to the prospect, be sure you are not “leading the witness” by asking long-winded questions or starting the question with a statement.

Scripting your questions prior to a call is invaluable in ensuring your questions are aimed at gathering the Intel you’re looking for. Don’t leave good questions to chance. The ability to instinctively think of relevant questions with appropriate follow-ons under pressure is not natural. Writing crystallizes thought. Take the time to put your thoughts and questions on paper. It will help you to remember your questions and respond under pressure.

Even as experienced as Larry King is, he always scripted his questions before his broadcast interviews. The advice he gave to up-and-coming presenters was to focus on the questions they asked to ensure they were always less than two lines. If they were longer than that, he suggested that they ask the question in a different way. When asked what his all-time favorite question was, he responded, “Why?”

One of the more powerful ways you can learn to ask good questions is to master the art of Socratic questioning. Socratic questioning seeks to get the other person to answer their own questions by making them think, and thereby drawing the answer out from them. This is a very valuable skill to learn.

Great storytellers have learned to never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Likewise, never let your questions hamper your ability to gather the human Intel (HUMINT®), you need.