Three Types of Questions That Help You Sell Anything

So, you want to write great marketing copy that sinks right into the hearts of your audience? Then all you need to do is provide them with excellent information about the values of your product and tell them why it’s the right fit for them at this very moment, right?

We don’t need to ask questions; we need to speak up with confidence and state the facts! Well …

It’s far too easy for many of us to fall into the trap of talking too much about ourselves and our awesome products without really focusing on the person that really matters the most: YOUR FUTURE CUSTOMER.

I once spoke to a very successful PR expert and he told me that whenever he’s cold calling someone he makes sure to finish talking about himself and his services as quickly as possible and start talking about the person on the other end of the line.

Sometimes he didn’t have a lot of information about the company he was calling so he had to guess and make assumptions about their needs. The more we know about our customer, the better the quality of our questions. Seems backwards? Ok, let’s start from the beginning then.

The first kind of questions you should be asking yourself is about identifying the person with whom you’re communicating. This means creating an avatar through asking about your audience’s interests, goals, values, pain points, etc. (Read the post “You talkin’ to me?” below to learn more about how to do this).

The next set of questions are the ones you actually are going to ask your audience. I’m focusing mainly on two kinds of questions here. The first are the yes-no questions. The famous psychologist Harry Overstreet, active in the 1950’s, talked about putting the audience in a “yes” mood. This is done by creating an affirmative atmosphere by the use of preliminary questions that will likely produce the answer “yes”. This is a great psychological tool to get a potential customer or client to say yes to the question that really counts.

In a direct conversation with someone, the preliminary questions can be a form of small talk like “Wasn’t that a great speech?” or “Don’t you agree that this location is pretty great?”. The “yes” should be implied in the question so don’t ask something like “Do you like this color?”. This feels more natural in a face-to-face conversation and might not work as well in a written ad. Avoid negative questions like “Isn’t this food awful?”; even though you might get a yes, those questions won’t create a positive or affirmative atmosphere.

So, how could this look in the context of an ad or a post on social media? Let’s say you want to sell a new type of anti-burglar system. You could ask a few questions about how they might worry about leaving their house when they go on vacation, or if they ever feel unsafe going to sleep when they’re home alone. The final call-to-action question in this case could be “Would you like to know how you could take a few simple steps to keep your house safe and your mind at ease?”.

The third type of questions is my favorite and is almost always very effective. It’s about getting to the potential objections your audience might have, before they’re formed in their minds. A good way to do this is asking questions and answering them in a way that completely eliminates the objections or fears about your product or service. Let’s say you’re selling air purifiers. Objections or worries might include the loudness of the fan, how often you need to buy expensive filters or if they really are effective for people with allergies, etc.

If you don’t want to print out the questions in your copy, you can just use the answers and keep the question hidden. Google can help you see what questions people usually have about your type of product or service. For more on this and similar techniques, I recommend Joe Vitale’s book Hypnotic Writing.

2 thoughts on “Three Types of Questions That Help You Sell Anything”

  1. Funny I should read this today because I just had an experience with a person that was setting the “yes” mood to me. Then she wanted me to join her network. I guess I was in some kind of hypnotic state because I almost joined. I mean I really wanted to because she was so wonderful and so were her products. But I do have to stick to my own business and not get distracted.

    -Donna

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