“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb
I was recently in a meeting with a CEO of a very successful company, one that I look up to. In the middle of the meeting, someone mentioned something about retail in China. He immediately perked up and began asking a number of questions. There’s no doubt that this man is a successful professional, but yet when you found something that he did not know very much about – he asked questions and learned. We think of good professionals as working hard, inspiring others, negotiating well, but another critical quality that I think we need to keep in mind is that they aren’t afraid to ask questions. I think that asking questions shows some further good attributes.
No one is really a know-it-all and it is never a good look. Asking questions shows others that you are confident enough to admit when you don’t know. This enables you to grow, just like the CEO did.
When you ask questions, the dynamic in the room changes. When you are no longer the big dog in the room, others are more likely to open up and ask questions too. With everyone better informed, better decisions can be made.
I know what you’re thinking, “Doesn’t asking questions show a poor command of the subject?” Well, not really. If you have a series of questions to ask in every meeting, it shows your team that you are on top of what is going on in the business and where there are gaps.
This might sound a little counterintuitive to you, but it is actually a sales strategy that works. When I first got started, young and naïve, I learned that asking questions is a great way to sell yourself and your company. By doing this, you let others feel empowered and shows that you are interested in their passion. They are more likely to trust you and want to work with you.
If anyone ever seems upset that you are asking a question, they are not true working professionals. Show them what a professional is by showing how asking questions makes deeper connections and boosts your career. At the very least, you will leave a meeting knowing more than you did before, which is never a bad thing.
Remember, asking questions shows confidence, openness, preparation and will be a great addition to your sales strategy.