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13 Socratic Questions that Sell


As salespeople, we tend to talk too much and listen too little. At least, that’s the common complaint from sales managers and potential customers across a spectrum of industries.

One way to listen more is to ask a series of thoughtful and leading questions; more specifically, Socratic Selling.

Socratic Selling is a customer-centric sales technique that emphasizes active listening and open-ended questioning. It aims to create a collaborative dialogue between the loan originator and the homeowner, rather than jumping headlong into a one-sided presentation..

The goal of each question is to engage with the potential borrower on a more emotional level while uncovering their underlying fears, misgivings, goals, and aspirations. Each of these help build rapport and provide a better understanding of what best serves their needs.

It’s said that the person who’s asking the questions is in control of the sales appointment. One way to begin that process is to say, “I’m prepared to talk about and answer any questions you may have about reverse mortgages with you, but first I’d like to get your perspective so we can focus our time on those things.”

This sets the stage for more questions but more importantly, it will allow you to demonstrate that you are there to serve their needs. This helps remove unnecessary tension or potential debates.

In our most recent video, we included several questions you could ask potential borrowers. Below we’ve included those and other questions you may wish to incorporate into your sales presentations. Please add the questions you suggest asking in the comment section below.

Socratic Sales Questions:

  1. I’m prepared to talk about and answer any questions you may have about reverse mortgages with you, but first I’d like to get your perspective so we can focus our time on those things. Does that sound fair to you?
  2. What motivated you to look into reverse mortgages in the first place? 
  3. What have you heard about reverse mortgages and from whom?
  4. How would your life change if you eliminated your existing mortgage payments or had access to funds on demand? 
  5. What will your life look like five years from now if you don’t get a reverse mortgage? 
  6. How long do you think it will take for interest rates to drop down to where they were in 2021? 
  7. Do you believe interest rates will ever be as low as they were in 2021 in your lifetime? 
  8. If interest rates don’t go down and home values begin to decline, how would that impact you?
  9. Would securing a reverse mortgage based on your home’s present value be better than waiting to see where what your home’s worth in one, two, or five years?
  10. What’s your biggest worry (concern) about retirement?
  11. Are you confident when one of you passes away that the survivor would have the income needed to meet their needs and live comfortably?
  12. If you don’t get a reverse mortgage what things would you not be able to do if you had?
  13. What else should I know about ___________?

After each question, stop and do what most salespeople forget to…listen. Your body language should show interest throughout. This could be a simple head nod, leaning toward the person speaking, and consistent eye contact.

If an answer is unclear ask “Did I get that right?”, or “Tell me a bit more about that”. 

Socratic Selling is a fresh departure from traditional and worn-out sales techniques, providing a more effective and customer-centric approach.

-Shannon Hicks


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

Leave a Comment


  1. The sad truth is, licenses issued to real estate and mortgage professionals are, for the most part, designed to protect the consumer from getting ripped-off. The content of a class to pass the test focuses on the law, not the practice of the trade.
    Most all other licenses require a demonstration of proficiency to be licensed, think: doctor, contractor, pilot. Attorneys spend hours in classes developing “courtroom” skills. Not so in the real estate and related industry.
    Everyone with a real estate/NMLS license should be required to take basic sales training, and be able to demonstrate the basic “Four-Step Sales Cycle”. We’d all be better off.
    Tom C.

    • Wow Shannon
      I have been looking for a fresh approach to getting referrals. I’m thinking I go to a potential referral partner and give him/her the list and tell them this is the conversation I will have with anyone you refer to me.

      • That’s great Greg. Let me know how that works. You’re the man in the field.

  2. Shannon as usual an excellent article for any sales person. “Shut up and Listen”. Best. Ed

  3. Really excellent questions. One that I would add to your list is:
    What is it you are trying to accomplish by getting a reverse mortgage – the end result?
    And then just listen. That one answer may tell you whether or not you have a “live” prospect.

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