Sales and Sales Management Blog

April 9, 2008

Book Review: Secrets of Question Based Selling, by Thomas A. Freese

How do you connect with and engage prospects and clients?  How do you gather the basic information you need in order to create interest and curiosity?  How do you find and highlight their needs or wants?  How do you determine what your prospect is thinking and what concerns they might have?

More than likely you use questions, at least to some extent.

Since you’re already using questions and since you’ve been taught to never ask a closed-end question and you’ve mastered the art of the open-ended question, why should you pick up Thomas A. Freese’s, Secrets of Question Based Selling: How the Most Powerful Toll in Business Can Double Your Sales Results (Sourcebooks, 2003)?  Because much of what you’ve been taught about questions and questioning is just flat wrong according to Freese.

Secrets of Question Based Selling (QBS) is obviously a book about questions and the art of using them to engage your prospect.  But it is far more than a book about questioning; it’s a book about effective selling and how to use questions to prick interest, discover information, engage and feed the needs of multiple participants in the decision making process, get past gatekeepers, get a return call when you leave a voice mail message, and to close the sale.

QBS isn’t just a book about questions.  Naturally, Freese discusses questions and questioning in great detail.  He lays out a number of types of questions and their uses.  He gives examples of both effective and ineffective questions.  He relates stories of question success—and question failure.  He addresses erroneous traditional question training such as to ask open-ended questions only.  He demonstrates the power of a well-crafted question–and how ill conceived questions lead to self-inflected wounds.

However, if you look at Secrets of Question Based Selling as a book about questions, you miss the power and essence of Freese’s message.  At its core, QBS isn’t really about asking questions.  It’s about understanding human nature and formulating a sales process that emanates from understanding who people are, how they think, how they respond, and what captures their attention and addresses their needs.

Secrets of Question Based Selling is one of a long line of books written over the past two and half decades that tries to set out a rational, workable, effective sales process for the complex sale.  The complex business-to-business sale has been the primary focus of sales process trainers for the last decades with little attention given to the less complex business-to-business and business-to-consumer sale.

Although designed for and directed toward the complex sale, many of the strategies and techniques in these sales process books are applicable to other types of sales situations although the authors seldom, if ever, address those situations.  Freese, to his credit, doesn’t ignore the vast majority of salespeople who are not engaged in complex solution selling.  He gives examples from the less lofty world of sales and even an example or two from the world of the one-time close sale.

The sales process Freese sets forth covers the gamut of prospect contract, from initial call to the close of the sale.  The primary tool used is questions but the foundation is an understanding of how people respond during the process of considering a purchase of any type, any size—and that basic human nature is the same for the company contemplating a twenty million dollar purchase as the couple contemplating a twenty thousand dollar purchase.

Whether you sell health insurance in a one-time close sale to mom and pop or the most sophisticated high tech services to Fortune 50 companies, Secrets of Question Based Selling is filled with gems that will help you connect with your prospects.  You may not choose to adopt the entire sales process Freese presents—the process in its entirety isn’t right for everyone or every situation, you cannot read the book and not walk away without having improved your ability to engage your prospect and your clients—and earn more money.



  1. I’m a big fan of QBS and this was one of the best reviews of his book. Great post!

    Comment by Walker Thompson — June 21, 2008 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  2. QBS and SPIN Selling are the bible at our company. Thanks for this reveiw.

    Comment by javelinmarketing — June 30, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

  3. Today is the beginning of my second read. 2012 is my year of now excuses and with QBS as my foundation I expect to see gains financially and personal.

    Success to all. Great investment for serious pros.

    Comment by Frankie J Mozell — January 2, 2012 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

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