Every day we ask questions and seek answers. We may not always like the answers but we ask anyway. There are times when the asking is unnecessary. In other words, you know the answer and yet you go ahead and ask the question anyway. Is this to confirm the knowledge you believe you already hold in your hand or head? Or is it to manipulate the situation further to your own advantage? I have been a victim of the latter on numerous occasions, we all have.

I used to work with and for a very smart salesman who served as a mentor to me in my early recruiting days. He was an incredibly talented businessman. I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn, first hand, from a master of persuasion. He never went to college or worked for a major search firm. He honed his craft in his early days as an Inside Sales Rep. He was told by a superior that he would never be an Outside Sales Rep - that he lacked the skills. This was exactly the right thing to say to him. He worked diligently and tirelessly to prove his superior wrong, which is exactly what he did. He became the #1 Rep for the company and soon was calling his own shots. He had a knack for knowing his customers and taking care of their needs first and foremost. He became a strong customer and vendor advocate.

He was recruited by a Recruiter-- (happens to the best of us, huh?) to join a boutique search firm as, basically, a partner. He found much success there and applied his better-than-average customer relations skills to his new career as a Recruiter. He later branched out on his own when he realized he had more to give clients and customers then could be given in his current capacity.

I learned several lessons from this man, most importantly: how to be enthusiastic about the opportunity or product you are representing and how to take care of your customers or clients or vendors. He told me several times that he never asked a question to which he didn't already know the answer. I have heard others say this, as well. Is this a trait of a good Recruiter?

I have tried to practice this technique but it just isn't my style...oh, I use it in my daily life-- "Did you leave that towel on the floor?" "Is that your bike in the driveway?" "Can you see the hole in my stockings?" and so on... but I simply am unable to apply it to recruiting or customer service. I love talking with people, I love hearing them tell their stories. I want to hear them say they are interested, I want them to tell me they love their current job (after all, those are the best candidates) and I want to savor the moments when undiscovered territory is crossed. I guess I am a modern-day Magellan, just trying to take contacts to relationships. For some, a schmooze is just another schmooze. For others, it is not such a great divide.

by rayannethorn


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the concept of asking a question you already know the answer to really has more to do with not asking open ended questions that can leave you flat footed if the prospect doesn't answer the question in the way you (as a salesperson ) were trained to handle.

Think of questions you ask clients and candidates when you are trying to get them to work with you..

what sounds like a stronger position for the recruiter - : calling and asking a candidate if an opportunity you had "sounds like a good fit'? after rattling off a title, company and salary, or this: having an already developed a profile on said candidate, and describing how the position matched what he said he wanted in a new position, AND then saying " based on our previous conversations, this position looks like a good fit, wouldn't you agree?"

you probably do this now, but that's a way to ask questions we already know the answer to. it mentally locks the prospect into a box he can't wriggle out of...this may sound like manipulation, but it's not wrong if the opportunity will improve his life if he takes it. people put themselves into little mental boxes all the time - we just want them to choose ours, right?

The real application of this technique comes in the realm of product sales..for example - in a former position, I was an applications consultant for an uber- complex product that solved a lot of complex problems for industries that used diesel fuel.. I couldn't walk in and ask questions like: " are you aware you are an emissions target?", without being able to cite chapter and verse the proof that they had to do something to curb their emissions, and I couldn't speak from opinion. ..If I couldn't prove my points, I would be shredded in front of a live audience, and would have opened a can of worms that would have derailed the main discussion...in other words, If i couldn't answer the questions, the prospect could have just shrugged their shoulders and I'd have gotten nowhere.

So, yeah, only asking questions you know the answer to is a survival technique in sales - often the prospect must be taught a new reality so they can see the value of a product or service they've never considered before, and the discussions must be kept on point, and moving forward.

as for it's use in recruiting, it's useful there too..but like any other technique, it must be applied gently and appropriately.
I think a good recruiter doesn't care what the answer is because they know if they don't like the answer they can rephrase the question.

Enjoy your weekend. See you all at Recruitfest.

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