As a sales leader, helping your reps increase sales is likely a high priority for you.
One simple way to accomplish that is to coach your reps to ask better open-ended leading questions.
Conversations created by open-ended sales questions build rapport, define needs, identify motivators, and uncover budget. They can also lead the prospect toward the purchasing decision.
We’ve compiled a list of 51 open-ended questions that will help your reps gather more information on a buyer and their situation. Armed with the answers they need, your reps will be able to recommend the best solution and close more deals, more often.
Examples of Open-Ended Questions for Sales
Rapport-building sales questions help the rep bond and establish trust with the person (or people) they’re speaking with.
Note: Your reps should be able to determine a buyer’s behavior style in the first few moments of conversation to know whether they will appreciate rapport-building questions. For more information on buyer behavior styles, check out this post.
Examples of open-ended sales questions for rapport-building include:
- What got you into this line of business?
- What are some of your personal goals and priorities right now?
- What are the biggest obstacles you’re experiencing at work and in your life?
- What are you up to this weekend/upcoming holiday?
- How are your children/spouse/relatives you recently mentioned?
- How did that thing you were talking about last time turn out?
- What big news or breakthroughs have you had since the last time we spoke?
- Tell me about any new obstacles or problems that have arisen?
Problem questions help to uncover the prospect’s priorities and motivating factors. Examples of open-ended problem questions include:
- What prompted you to call us/take this meeting?
- What are your top business priorities right now?
- How would you describe the problem you’re trying to solve?
- What challenges have you faced in the past when trying to solve these problems?
- What changes in your customer demands are influencing your decisions?
- What changes in the competitive landscape are impacting your business?
- What else about the situation worries or frustrates you?
- If there is a current solution provider, why are you considering an alternative?
Impact questions help both the rep and the prospect understand a client's pain points, so they are on the same page about the investment required to change it. Examples of open-ended impact questions include:
- How much does this problem currently cost your company?
- How much does it cost you, personally?
- What non-monetary costs are associated with the problem?
- How long has the problem been impacting you?
- What would it feel like to solve the problem once and for all?
- How much would a good solution save you and the company?
Solution questions begin the process of defining a solution that is tailored to the customer’s needs. Examples of powerful open-ended solution questions include:
- What would an ideal solution look like for you?
- What are the must-have criteria for a solution?
- What are the want-to-have criteria?
- What is your timeline for solving these challenges?
- What are the qualities you’re looking for in a solution provider?
- What are your success criteria for the solution?
- How will you know the solution has worked?
Buying Process Questions
Buying process questions help the seller understand how the prospect will make the buying decision so they can assist in the process. Examples of useful open-ended buying process questions include:
- If I may ask, what does your decision-making process look like?
- Who else, besides yourself, of course, will be involved in this decision?
- What specific information will you need in order to make your decision?
- What obstacles have you faced in the past when trying to make a similar decision?
Budget questions help the salesperson design an appropriate solution and can help the customer to identify additional sources of funding when necessary. Examples of open-ended budget questions include:
- What is the currently allocated budget for solving this problem?
- What will happen if that amount isn’t enough to fully fund the solution?
- What other sources of funding can be explored if necessary?
Follow-up questions asked during a sales conversation get the prospect to go deeper and uncover more information. Examples of powerful follow-up questions include:
- Tell me more about that, please.
- What would an example of that be?
- How did that impact you?
- Who else was impacted?
- How do you feel about that?
- Why is that?
- What else was going on that affected the situation?
- What other thoughts do you have about that?
- Where did the situation go from there?
- What was the outcome of that?
- When else have you experienced similar situations?
- Why is this important to you?
The right open-ended questions can help salespeople avoid some objections, and lead the customer past any that do arise.
To arm your salespeople with examples of open-ended objection questions, start by asking them what are the most common objections they encounter. Then tailor example questions for them to head these off or address them.
Examples of open-ended objection questions include:
- Who else, besides you, of course, will be involved in this decision? (Avoids the “I have to ask my boss” objection)
- If I may ask, what type of budget do you have for this solution? (Avoids the “your price is too high” objection)
- What else do you need in order to make this decision (Avoids the “I need to think about it” objection)
A successful sales questioning strategy avoids closed-ended questions that result in the buyer giving a one-word answer. Coach your reps with action steps that focus on open-ended questions and most importantly, how to be listening to answers.
To uncover even more valuable insight, we recommend going a step further and using the 3-deep questioning strategy.
The IMPACT-U® Online Sales training program teaches sales professionals a 6-step consultative selling process that they can apply with every opportunity. They’ll learn to create a pre-call plan that includes specific open-ended questions to uncover exactly what a buyer needs and wants in a solution.