The Power of Rhetorical Questions

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There is great power in a rhetorical question. Bernie Cornfield proved it.  He pioneered the selling of mutual funds in the 1950s. He started with the question, “Do you sincerely want to be rich?” The short answer for most people was, “Yes.” He used this rhetorical question to power his organization that employed 25,000 salespeople at the height of his success.

Rhetorical questions can also be very powerful in closing sales.


For example, in the damage restoration business I have an interest in, at times a prospective customer will engage us to take on their work. I might ask, “Would you like the mold removed completely from your home?” Or:  ”Would you like us to remove all of the fire damage and smoke odor from your home?” In my business consulting, I might ask a prospective client, “Do you want to be stuck in the same problem next year?”

There is significant power in these questions. Your prospective customer becomes engaged and interested and starts envisioning the answer to the question.

New car salesmen are well trained to use these types of questions.  They ask: “How would you feel driving this baby home?” Even landscape salesmen may ask, “What would you do with the extra time every week if we took care of your yard?” Immediately the prospective customer starts thinking about time for watching a baseball game, going  for a hike or enjoying another activity rather than getting down, pulling weeds, and tending the yard.

We see an example in scripture, “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’" (John 5:6 NIV) What sick person would answer “No, I’d rather be sick.” Learn to use rhetorical questions in your business and steer customers to closing a transaction.