The development of research in business studies and business communication has brought about a lot of new facts and interesting aspects if human behavior. Most of these related to various aspects of customer interaction. On the basis of these studies business communication has developed a process of verbal interaction while doing business or sales. Most business and sales personnel undergo a training of this process and most of the soft skill training include it in their curriculum as well. Open ended and close ended questions form an integral part of these business communications.
The use of these techniques is not just limited to the area of business communication, today almost all surveyors and research questionnaires depend on this form of questioning to generate a more reliable data for their use. The main reason behind this is that these two forms if combined together provide a funnel effect and help reach a desired solution or data rather more easily. A close ended question can be defined as one which can be answered in a single word, this word can be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or any other word. For e.g. questions like ‘how old are you?’ or ‘which grade are you in?’ or ‘Do u like football?’ all can be answered in a single word, hence they are called close ended questions.
These kinds of questions have many uses like opening a conversation or understanding a point more clearly or to generate a concrete response etc.
On the other hand open ended questions intentionally seek longer and more descriptive answers. With such questions the respondent is required to think and ponder over the answer and then convey his or her feelings or opinions or needs. In business communication this is a process of further knowing a person’s needs, requirements or problems etc. for e.g. questions like ‘what are you looking for?’ or ‘why is that so important to you?’ or ‘what is it that you require?’ etc require an elaborate answer to be convey a message clearly, hence these are called open ended questions. Such questions are used to lead a conversation especially during a business communication towards identifying the needs and problems to which one has a solution. It is quite an effective tool in this regard.
So whereas the close ended questions generate quick responses, the open ended questions are the ones that lead towards a solution or a deal. The close ended questions usually leave incomplete remarks which demand an unrestrained and free response that is in turn created by the trust developed with open ended questions.
Soft skill training of various categories and different segments emphasizes on the need to club these two together for a good general conversation. It also helps in leaving a good first impression at someone you have just met. Also such a combination makes sure that no one party is completely overshadowing the other or controlling the conversation, rather it enables to develop a healthy and a mutually interesting dialogue that is satisfactory for both the persons involved. Along with this it also leads to a smooth business interaction that is in the end very yielding. So mastering the art of using these questions can be the best thing a budding sales executive learns. More so because it is something not taught at business schools.