Negotiation Skills: Asking Closed Questions

The success of a negotiation is often dependent on the questions asked and answered.

But how do you know what questions to ask.  Some are obvious of course  … but others, although more revealing, can be more difficult to formulate.

Let’s start with some simple Closed questions that elicit either a YES or NO answer.

These are normally questions like:

Before we proceed is there anything else you need to know?
Before we proceed is there anything else you need to tell me?
Before we proceed is there anything else I need to know to enable me to make a decision?
Do you have full authority in this sale/negotiation/purchase or do we need to involve anyone else?

We are often told that open questions are better as they permit us to delve deeper and encourage the other party to expand .. especially if when the answer we use comments like “And?” or “and the significance/benefit of that is?”

The secret of closed questions is the silence after they are asked. If you don’t get an immediate answer .. just sit quietly and wait. Don’t jump in and expand the question or move on. Just sit quietly and wait for the answer.

This is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in a negotiation. Sitting and waiting for an answer.

The thing is it is really hard to sit in silence and the negotiations are won or lost over these silences.

You need an answer to be able to proceed or close the negotiation.

Another point here. Closed questions are good when the other party is giving out body language signals that counteract what they are saying.

Ask things like ..

“Are you really sure?”
“You don’t look convinced, are you?”

Don’t accept any answer that doesn’t give you a straight answer. So if you say “You don’t look convinced, are you convinced?”, the answer you want is Yes or No, Iam convinced or I’m not convinced. Answers like “Looks can be deceiving” is NOT an answer to the question you asked! If you get an answer like this .. ask the question again.

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