B2B telemarketing & open questions

Over the years, Blue Donkey have tried out lots of different ways of getting telemarketing calls off of the ground. We’ve found by far the best method is the ‘open question’. Simple but effective – this tried and tested technique has been helping the Blue Donkey team to achieve outstanding results year after year.

B2B telemarketing needs to successfully identify, reach, engage, and motivate decision makers to change something they have been content with. We already know they are ‘not interested’. How? Well put simply, we are calling them, and they are not calling us. Depressing, yes? Not really, it’s why B2B telemarketing is a skill that takes time to learn and hone. Successful telemarketing requires engaging people quickly. The faster you can get someone talking, the easier it will be for you to build a report and begin laying the foundations for a business relationship. However, as a lot of decision makers are incredibly busy, getting them to sit down and talk isn’t always easy.

What are open questions

Open question can’t be answered with a simple yes or no response. They are probing questions that have the potential to generate a conversation because they require some thought. The right open questions need careful design, but they are worth investing some effort into because, during the course of your B2B telemarketing, they are one of the main tools of the trade. A great way to learn what open questions work for you is to try a few and see which feel more authentic. At Blue Donkey we use David Kolb Learning Cycle theory to support our learning. Kolb argues we learn from our experiences; he treats reflection as an integral part of such learning. According to Kolb the process of learning follows a pattern or cycle consisting of four stages involving – try something new, reflect on the outcome, think about improvement, test a new way. The open questions that are right for one person won’t necessarily work for another, so it’s important to develop a method for creating, changing, and adapting the open questioning techniques we use.


Most open questions begin with the words Who What When Why How. Consequently, these simple words usually require a more extensive answer than yes or no. Create the question that’s consistent with the objective of your B2B telemarketing call. Avoid making unnecessary small talk at all costs, clearly ‘How are you?’ is not likely to be relevant, and it won’t improve your call or your outcomes. Instead, link your question to the business for example ‘how do you go about achieving x?’ or ‘what do you look for in a y?’ Secondly, try to avoid turning your open question into a multi-choice response. Nervous people often ask great questions but can’t bear the silence that follows whilst the contact ponders their answer, so they jump in with possible closed responses.

Using open questions to gain valuable insight

As well as helping you to get the decision maker talking, open questions can be used to gain valuable insights about the business you’re calling. Asking the right question will open up opportunities to tailor your message to suit the needs of the organisation. As you’re dialling bring up their website to help fuel all those nice open questions. Asking about the business, their success factors, their marketplace, and products will arm you with a better understanding of who they are and what they do; two things that can make a big difference to the success of your call.

Open questions are a powerful telemarketing tool. To learn more about improving your telemarketing technique, or to find out more about what we do, contact a member of our team today.

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