How to ask Great Questions (and Listen Actively)

I’ve been on my first long distance travels for the last 2 years. I am in Montevideo, Uruguay this week teaching at IEEM Business School. I’ve been coming here for the last 12 years (last year was a virtual visit via zoom). Many of my classes this week finished with participants commenting on the importance of listening to others before jumping to conclusions. A big part of listening is learning to ask great questions.

There are several good frameworks to structure your questions… one good framework is this one from RAIN sales. A longer explanation of their framework and approach to questions in the context of sales training is available in this pdf: Keys to Leading Masterful Sales Conversations (pdf from the RAIN group).

The 4 levels of Questions

The 4 levels of questions are listed and described below:

  1. Facts – questions about what is basically true for us both and we can agree upon.
  2. Opinions – questions about the other person’s opinion about the facts, the trends in the facts, what is important about the facts, what does it mean, who else is affected.
  3. Impact – questions about the short, medium and long term impact if we do or do not take action. The secret to a good impact question? it has the word “impact” in it.
  4. Change – questions about what it would be worth to achieve a change, what actions we are willing to commit to, what it would be worth to us if we could achieve a better future.

Here’s a list of 50 great sales questions divided into these 4 types of question from the RAIN Group blog.

If you liked this post, you will also like How to Take Better Business Decisions: 50 Great Questions for Critical Thinking and Jim Collins: How to Build an Enduring Great Company (12 Questions for Leaders).

Postcards from Montevideo

A few more images of my adventures in Montevideo

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action. View all posts by Conor Neill