Close-ended Questions: Yes or No? Should you answer a close-ended question with a one- to two-word answer, or is it an opportunity to clarify and explain with a mega-minute explanation?

Watching a courtroom drama, I notice the prosecutor demands that the defense's witness “just answer the question: yes or no.” In Meatloaf’s song "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" Ellen Foley sings, “Let me know boy: yes or no?”  Trying to get a straight answer might be harder than you think. Let’s put ourselves in the trade show attendee's shoes, walking from booth to booth comparing one product or service to another.

In our scenario, the prospect asks a series of questions at various exhibits in order to find the best products, services and associates for their business. With feet getting tired and belly rumbling, the potential customer has narrowed his choices down to two. The questions are more specific, requiring a yes or no answer.  The booth staff salesperson, however, wants to capture the interested person and rambles on and on instead of giving the “yes” or “no” short answer. Head swimming, the potential customer leaves to see if a more direct answer is with the other and hopefully final company.

Keep the answer short when the question calls for it. If you are a sales representative, teacher, or trainer, you may have to practice this. At a meeting filled with trainers, we found it very difficult to do. Make eye contact with the person asking the questions, watch their body language and be aware of their reactions to your conversation. No one ever complained that the salesperson didn’t talk enough.

I would love hear what you think...

contact Ruth to get booth staff ready for their next show tel: 626-254-9369