All the sales training in the world won’t help you if you don’t master this one superpower. 

I mean it. Until you learn how to apply this one skill, you could have the best business plan written up, along with the most charming personality. And you’d still be spinning your wheels. 

Curious yet? Keep reading. 

We did a listing training at the office the other day for a group of our newer agents. I wasn’t there for the whole time, but what I walked in on was one of my favorite trainings

Jason Posnick was sitting at the table with a bottle of water next to him. I’ve seen him do the same training countless times over the years, always with a different object. He sits there and hands the item—be it a bottle of water, a pen, a book, a cell phone or whatever—to the agent, and he says, “Sell me this [fill in the blank].” 

I always love to sit back and observe, probably with a small smirk, as one by one. Jason passes this inanimate object from agent to agent saying the same thing. And one by one, the agents launch into their most salesy sales pitches.

They start with such confidence and enthusiasm thinking that they are going to prove their sales mastery with the eloquent words, catchphrases and all the adjectives that they can find to describe something as mundane as water. 

They spout the wonders of this magical elixir we know as H2O. They talk about the pH balance, the clarity of the water, the minerals that can make your skin look 10 years younger, or the bottle made from a hundred percent recycled material pulled from the oceans.  

One by one. Jason says, 

  • “No thank you. I’m not interested.
  • “I don’t want water that is perfectly pH balanced. 
  • “Clarity doesn’t matter to me. 
  • “I’d prefer water without minerals. 
  • “I think my skin looks youthful and stunning right now. 
  • “And the bottle, I only drink water that is in a glass bottle.”  

One by one I watch their faces fall, perplexed as to why Jason is being such a tough customer.

It is then that Jason breaks it down: 

You each tried to sell me on what you thought was important or what you liked about the water, but none of you stopped to ask me what I was looking for and the type of water that I buy. How can you convince me that this is the right water for me if you don’t take the time to learn what that is?” 

One by one I watch to see how they react as they realize that no matter their prior experience in sales or marketing or whatever, they missed something absolutely crucial. 

And maybe, just maybe, we can teach them something that makes all the other training worth it. 

In the realm of sales, success isn’t defined merely as the ability to sell a product or service. True success lies in the ability to understand, connect, and deliver solutions tailored to the unique needs of every individual client. 

And the bridge that connects us to those insights? Questions.

The #1 skill of successful salespeople

You see, the most successful salespeople aren’t just persuasive talkers; they’re masterful listeners. They understand that every individual, and every business, has a unique story, a distinct set of desires and pain points. 

When you pitch someone on a service or product based solely on your own perceptions, you risk missing the mark. But when you take a step back, ask questions, and truly understand what your client wants or needs, you’re not only aligning yourself with their goals, but also forging a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. 

Recent studies and sales dynamics reveal a compelling pattern: sales professionals who engage in in-depth questioning, actively seeking to understand their client’s needs, saw a significant increase in their conversion rates. In some cases, the increase was as high as 20%

But why? Because when you ask more, you learn more. And when you learn more, you can offer solutions that resonate.

However, it’s essential to recognize that learning to use questions effectively isn’t an overnight skill. It takes time, dedication, and most importantly, practice. 

Just like mastering any craft, there will be hiccups along the way. No one becomes an expert interrogator overnight. But every question you ask and every feedback you receive shapes you into a more discerning, more effective salesperson. 

The power of inquiry

Bringing this back to that group of new agents, after the training, Jason and I were sitting in the break room just chatting, when one of our agents came over to ask a question. She had met a client at a home for a showing. During the showing, she learned two things:

  1. He had a home to sell in order to buy, but he wasn’t fully convinced he wanted to move just yet. 
  2. He didn’t want representation; he just wanted a showing to see the house.

Our agent had called afterward and wanted to convince him that she was the agent for him. She would be the one to masterfully guide him through the process of navigating both selling and buying at the same time. 

Alas, the client ghosted her. He wasn’t answering her calls or responding to any outreach. So, she was employing some of the training that she learned and she was going to text him because sometimes we have to engage a client in a different way.

She had drafted this wonderful text message—again about how she’s excited to help him and would like to offer him a free equity analysis so that he knows how much his home is worth when he sells it. She asked us to read the text because she thought it might be too long. 

Jason and I listened to her, and then we both asked her— 

Did he ever ask for info about selling his home? Does he want to sell his home? Do we understand what is most important to him or how we can even help him decide if he wants to sell his home?

Each answer was a no, and one by one we saw the light bulb start to go on. 

Then came the final question: 

“By focusing on the sale of his home, instead of the buying process, are we trying to see what we think is important, what we want? Or are we trying to understand his needs, his pain points?”

That triggered the aha moment when the training came full circle, and everything clicked. 

That moment right there is seriously one of my all-time favorite moments to watch an agent, whether new or old, experience. The power in that one moment will forever change the course of her sales career. So I urge each of you to embrace the power of inquiry.

Questions lead to opportunities

Every question is an opportunity to refine your approach and realign with your prospect’s goals. 

In the world of real estate, where homes aren’t just properties but deeply personal spaces, understanding a client’s vision can be the difference between a missed opportunity and a lifelong partnership. 

Every home, every property, every deal has a story behind it. And it’s your job—our job—to uncover that story. So let’s make a conscious shift in our mindset. 

Instead of telling our clients why they need us, let’s ask them how we can serve them. Dive deep into their world, their needs, and their dreams. In doing so, we don’t just sell properties, we build homes, forge relationships, and set the gold standard of service. 

I challenge each of you to ask more, listen intently, and to learn incessantly. Because in every question lies an answer. And in every answer lies an opportunity.