Questions are an important part of almost every conversation. So being able to ask good questions is critical to communication. How can we make our questioning more effective and efficient? In this two-part Business English Podcast series we’ll be looking at some answers.
The communication skills we’ll be learning can be used in any situation, but we’ll be focusing in on an area where questioning techniques are particularly important: needs analysis. This refers to analyzing the needs of a customer as part of the sales process. We’ll study a series of questioning techniques that can be used to “drill down to” – that is, get to or uncover – the information you want.
In today’s Business English listening Brad is a sales manager for Forrest and Brown, a producer of innovative industrial coatings and glues. Coating refers to a chemical that is applied to the outside of something to protect it. For example, paint is a type of coating. Forrest and Brown produces “conformal coatings”; this type of coating is used to protect printed circuit boards, or PCBs. PCBs are small flat boards covered with wiring and electronic parts. Almost all electronic devices – TVs, CD players, phones – have them.
Today Brad is visiting Andy, who is a production manager for Stratos, an assembler of PCBs that are used in household items. We can say that Andy is Brad’s “prospect” – the person he wants to sell to.
Let’s listen to how Brad asks Andy questions to analyze Stratos’ needs.
1) What does Brad think of the Stratos facility?
2) How long has Stratos been located in its current location?
3) What kind of devices does Stratos produce circuit boards for?