No such thing as a stupid sales question

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When it comes to being a sales ninja there really is no such thing as a stupid question…..

Many years ago I got a telemarketing appointment to go and see the Indian owner of an Aromatherapy manufacturing business. It turned out to be quite a fractious affair.

The owner sat opposite me with his son, also involved in the business, sat just to my right. As we began to talk it became apparent that the owner was not exactly happy about my presence there. He gave single word answers to my questions and was clearly not interested in disclosing or discussing any problems with the way the business was being run.

His son, who saw some challenges within the company, tried to encourage him to open up but it wasn’t working. Every line of questioning I tried just led to a dead end and a slightly embarrassing silence.

At one point I even found sensations of anger welling up in me. If he wasn’t going to open up to me why did he even bother taking up the appointment? Exasperated I sat back in my chair and looked around the office.

There were shelves and cupboards in the room, all holding bottles and diffusers of various sizes. It reminded me of an old fashioned chemist shop and as my eyes scanned the shelves a question occurred to me. I looked at the owner and said

“Just out of interest how do you make perfume?”

His eyes immediately lit up and excitedly he pointed to the door and said ”come with me and I’ll show you”. He took me around the factory and explained the source of fragrances. He introduced me to the team and gave me two small bottles of perfume; one for me and one for my girlfriend. His wife who had turned up with lunch insisted that I took some of a fresh made pie she had brought into the factory.

We talked for an hour, said our goodbyes and as I drove home I was left wondering how things would have gone if I had asked that question first.

High quality, well-crafted questions are the key weapons in the armoury of the Sales Ninja.

As well as providing answers about what the customer wants they also:

  • allow your customer to challenge the basis of their opinions and beliefs, creating the space for your new ideas to be more fully considered
  • create the connections that enable a deeper and enduring relationship to form

As a salesman I have always said there is no finer compliment than this simple statement;

That is a great question!!!


If you want to discuss putting members of your team through the most important and valuable sales training they will ever undertake then get in contact now. They are still a few places left on the next, and the last, public Sales Ninja program. Drop me an email ( and we’ll organise a conversation with you.