Children ask a staggering number of questions a day. Research shows they ask at least 73 questions a day. Adults ask only about 20 questions a day. What happened to us?
Life! Experience! Our experiences growing up discouraged us from asking questions. Quotes like “Curiosity killed the cat” stick in our minds. As we aged, we became aware of others and their opinion about us. We don’t want to look dumb or unprepared. We learned that questions meant we were challenging. How does a teenager feel after a conversation with their parents when they ask "Why?" only to hear, “Because I said so.”
E.E. Cummings, the American poet, wrote in his book Introduction to New Poems, “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
In his book, A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger defines a beautiful question as “An ambitious, yet actionable, question that can begin to change the way we think about something and might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.”
Successful salespeople know there are two parts to asking beautiful questions. The questions you ask yourself and the questions you ask your prospects and customers.
Here are a few examples of beautiful questions people asked themselves that had a significant impact in recent times:
- Why should you be stuck without a bed if I’ve got an extra air mattress? This question inspired the beginning of Airbnb.
- Inventor Edwin Land’s daughter asked while he was taking pictures on vacation, “Why do we have to wait for the picture?” So he created the Polaroid Instant camera!
- What if we could paint over our mistakes? The founding of Liquid Paper.
- What if we ran a video rental business like a health club? The birth of Netflix.
Do you ask yourself beautiful questions?
What about your prospects and customers? Questions like who, what, when, where, and how are simple questions that give simple answers. Beautiful questions are insightful. The answers provide one with a deep understanding. How can you ever offer a solution to your customer if you don’t understand their circumstances?
Questions give you the information you need to solve problems, develop innovative ideas, help you discover what people and companies want, and provide an understanding of how you and your products and services can help.