Why questions get you hired more than credentials do

Why does a professional with impeccable educational and professional credentials not get hired when a professional with more modest credentials does?

There are two common reasons.

The first is the likability factor. As author David Maister notes, people choose professionals when the answer to two questions is yes:

a. Can you do the work?

b. Do I want to work with you?

Most professionals do fine on “a” but some professionals have trouble with “b.” There are skills required to build rapport with clients and prospective clients, and some professionals don’t bother to learn those skills. They come across as arrogant, aloof, and unconcerned with the prospect’s success — at least compared to competitors. You don’t need to “kiss up” in order to develop rapport and trust with a prospect, but you do need to know how to relate on a personal level.

The second reason is that some professionals hide behind their credentials. Credential are important. However, what really sells an engagement is the ability to ask probing, insightful questions to understand the prospect’s situation and build your credibility. As David Sandler says in his sales book, “Questions are the answer.”

The next time you are with a prospect, assess the percentage of time you spend making assertions and the percentage of time you spend asking open-ended questions. The top rainmakers spend 75% of their time asking open-ended questions. That way, the prospect knows that the professional is concerned about their issues and situation and, assuming the questions are on point, that the professional has credibility.

Questions get you hired more than credentials do.


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