How To Ask High-Leverage Questions

High- Leverage questions are a unique kind of open-ended question.  They require people to do more than respond and carry on a conversation—they require people to engage in high-level thinking that may produce new insights or value.  In their simplest form, High- Leverage questions may ask people to evaluate or analyse, speculate, or express feelings.


Evaluate or Analyse

  • How would you compare “X” with “Y?”
  • How would you evaluate success in “X?”
  • What are the three most important difficulties you face in achieving “X?”
  • You said that “X” and “Y” are important.  Is there also a “Z” that fits with these two?
  • What does the problem with “X” cost you in lost opportunities?


  • If you could organize this operation in any way you desired, how would you do it?
  • Suppose you had no financial constraints in the next two years.  How would you do “X?”
  • Suppose you could write an ideal equipment specification for this product.  What would it include?

Express Feelings

  • How do you feel about the trend toward “X” in your organisation?
  • You said that achieving “X” will be an important goal for the next year.  How do people in the division feel about your organisation’s ability to achieve “X?”
  • How does management feel about the problems you have been describing in completing “X?”

As ever, your questions should be brief and clear, open ended, relevant and phrased to encourage a thoughtful answer.

Use them when selling complex products and services, or when you are emphasising the value of your offer rather than price.  Make high-leverage questions part of your sales toolkit.