The 10 Commandments of Open Questioning

One of the lasting skills I was taught as a 17 year old recruit in my first corporate role was to list all the words that would start an open questioning sentence.

It’s the most useful and referred to exercise I can recall and if you follow these rules it will be easy to find and speak to the right people.

Whenever there’s a moment in a conversation that I have not been sure of where to take it next, I simply think of the 10 commandments.

I’ve never been a fan of scripted phone calls. I prefer to have a bulleted list of keywords & information to gather.

That way the person you are speaking to may take you to a different place and answer something ahead of a script. To me it is all about working the conversation back around in as natural a fashion as possible.

For the recipient of the call they have their own agenda, in terms of priority and timing first because cost is way down the list at this stage.

This is why thinking about the key questions up front help to speed up the qualifying process.

You are able to demonstrate understanding and empathy for their current circumstances and begin building the relationship for when the timing will be right to dive deeper into providing solutions.

There is always a trigger word that can lead to another question to keep the conversations flowing.

  1. WHO
  2. ARE
  3. HOW
  4. WHEN
  5. WHAT
  6. WHICH
  7. WHERE
  8. WHY
  9. CAN
  10. WILL

In my experience asking the top three open questions are the best place to start.

Think about it.

The first question should be:

  1. Who looks after?


  1. Are you the best person to speak to about?

Followed by:

  1. How do you currently look after?
  2. When will you be making any changes?
  3. What will be the priority?
  4. Which options are you considering?
  5. Where will you get the information?
  6. Why will this be important to you?
  7. Can we send you our details?
  8. Will it be okay to stay in contact?

Even whilst writing this I am conscious of the many different variables that these questions will play out in a conversation, either on a phone call or even a face to face meeting.

That’s why I find it so important to reassure anyone using the phone not to get hung up on a script. That script will leave you tongue tied when the other person, who doesn’t know the script, doesn’t play along!

These open questioning words can be used to build all the sentences you ever need to ask.

You know your product or service. You know the value it brings for your existing customers.

Talk about the person and their business that you are speaking to and refer to how you have helped others in a similar situation.

When you have clients that love what you do they can be the best way to “sell” you to new customers. Go to our Testimonial and Case Study page and see what people have said about us.

We hope this has helped. Much more help can be found in our Training Work Book where we help you build an audience and manage a campaign. To read more about this click to our ‘Book’ page here.




Wendy Harris making conversations count telemarketing training author podcast