• Gert Scholts

What Scotland Yard, Journalists and Sales Champions have in common


The Five Ws, are open ended questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. Detectives, journalists and top sales champions use them frequently.

They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. According to the principle of the Five Ws, a report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word:

  • What happened?

  • Who was involved?

  • Where did it take place?

  • When did it take place?

  • Why did that happen?

Each question should have a factual answer — facts necessary to include for a report to be considered complete. None of these questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no"

When selling to new customers and in account management, they are very useful when building rapport.

And there is one additional benefit that is often overlooked. These questions, when being answered, increase customer engagement. The emotion rises. The willingness to address the problems gets bigger and the sales opportunity shapes up.

Using open ended questions in sales is elementary when factfinding and closing deals.


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