Open vs Closed Questions – Revisited

A closed question is one which restricts the ways in which it can be answered.  Yes or No.  This or That.

An open question gives the other person a great deal of freedom in how they choose to answer.  These questions often begin with words like what, why, when, who, where, and how.

In High Probability Selling (HPS), we ask a lot of questions, both open and closed, each in their own place and time.  It’s a discovery process.  There are a lot of things to find out.

When we ask a prospect anything about want, we always ask a closed question.  We want to hear a simple yes or no answer.  “Is that something you want?”

If a prospect says “yes” to our question about want, we ask, “Why?”  That’s a very open question.

After we set an appointment for our next meeting or phone conversation with the prospect, we ask an open question again.  We ask, “When we meet, if our packaging meets your criteria, what will you do?”  We leave this as open as possible, without suggesting an answer.  We never ask, “Will you buy from me?”

When we ask questions to find out what kind of person the prospect is, and what sort of relationship is likely to form, almost all of our questions are open ones.  We learn more that way.  (See Chapter 7 in the book.)

In the Discovery / Disqualification process (Chapter 8 in the book), most of the questions we ask are open questions.  Even the closed ones leave the other person some latitude in how they might choose to respond.

Near the end of the sale, when we review the details, we we ask a series of closed questions.  For each feature, we ask, “Will that work for you?”

And finally, at the close, we ask another open question:  “What do you want to do?”

Jacques Werth (co-author of the book, High Probability Selling) has written about using open questions in the context of needs-based selling (Questions: Open-Ended or Close-Ended?).   That article seems to suggest that HPS asks more closed questions than open ones.  However, the opposite is true.  We just use open questions for a different purpose than all of the “getting-people-to-buy” methods of selling.

New Workshop: High Probability Mindset Discovery

This is new material, never offered in a workshop before.  The focus is on the mental side of High Probability Selling (HPS).  Things like attitudes, beliefs, habits, concepts, principles, guidelines, and language.  We call this the mindset of High Probability Selling.

We recommend this course for people who are just beginning with HPS (and have read the book at least once) and also for those who have had some training.

The course is presented by Paul Bunn and Carl Ingalls.  It consists of 3 sessions, each about two hours long, and spaced one week apart.  Sessions are conducted by teleconference, and are live interactive conversations.  We record each session and make the recordings available to the participants.

We interview each applicant by telephone before accepting them as a student.

Price:  $255 USD per person.  We accept PayPal and most major credit cards around the world.

Dates:  Three consecutive Tuesdays.  The first session is Tue 21 Nov 2017.  The second and third sessions are on Tue 28 Nov and Tue 5 Dec.

Time:  7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, USA Eastern Time (same as New York City).

For more information, or if you want to apply for this workshop, please visit our webpage at

For other workshops in High Probability Selling, please visit our HPS Training webpage.

Driving Your Customers

Watch your language. Driving is what we do to sheep. Is that how you feel about your customers? If so, it probably shows. If not, then be careful about the language you use, and the messages it sends.

by Carl Ingalls

Watch your language.  Driving is what we do to sheep.  Is that how you feel about your customers?  If so, it probably shows.  If not, then be careful about the language you use, and the messages it sends.

If you don’t respect your customers, and you don’t show this in every detail, you can’t expect them to respect you.  Lack of respect leads to lack of trust, and we all know what that does to sales.

%d bloggers like this: