I was at a networking breakfast yesterday having a conversation with a guy about questioning skills. He had been taught that open questions were good and closed questions were bad. As a consequence he was using open questions to try and close the sale. Understandably he was struggling to get a decision from prospects!
The meeting was in a golf club and as he was a keen golfer, so I likened questions to playing golf. You need the right club for the job. If you want to drive the ball down the fairway then you might use a driver but you would not use a driver once you are on the green. You would use a putter for that.
Open questions give you lots of information and if used properly can give you the key to unlock the sale. They are like drivers. At the end of the day, though, you need a decision – YES or NO. Closed questions give you this and they are more like a putter. Useful for placing the golf ball into the hole. Using an open question to close a sale is just like using a driver on the green.
Closed questions are not bad – they are actually very good. You just need to know what they are good for. I have produced a video (below) to clarify the difference in detail but essentially closed questions will give you decisions, open questions will give you information.