13 Best Consultative Sales Questions

Consultative Sales Questions

Is your sales team leaving opportunities on the table because of poor questioning? Asking consultative sales questions is a critical skill many sellers overlook in their rush to close. But it’s a highly effective tactic.

In a recent webinar, Sales Questioning Skills That Win More Deals, The Brooks Group Director of Sales Effectiveness Corey McKizzie and I shared the most effective sales questioning approaches for better sales discovery.

With a consultative sales approach, sales professionals can uncover valuable information about the customer’s pain points, goals, and preferences by asking insightful and open-ended questions. When you understand your customers better, you can offer solutions that meet their needs, making it more likely to close a sale.

Sales professionals can improve the buyers’ experience by showing a genuine interest in helping them solve their problems. Consultative sellers gain trust and credibility by understanding the customer’s needs and challenges. This understanding helps build stronger relationships with customers and increases customer loyalty.

If your sales professionals aren’t using consultative selling questions, chances are they’re missing out. A consultative approach helps sellers become strategic advisors rather than be viewed as product vendors. This helps them stand out in a competitive market.

With today’s buyers in control—able to search for product and service information about your company with a few taps of the keyboard or screen—your sales professionals need to be adept at selling not just your offering, but also the concept of themselves as strategic advisors.

A consultative approach can lead to long-term customer satisfaction and retention. By focusing on providing value and addressing the customer’s unique challenges, sales professionals can establish themselves as partners in the customer’s success.

This customer-centric approach not only drives sales but also fosters lasting relationships that can result in repeat business and referrals. Overall, adopting a consultative sales approach can result in improved sales performance, increased customer loyalty, and sustainable business growth.

Consultative sales questions are not just the domain of the outside sales professional. In fact, if your entire organization is not focused on helping the buyer discover their needs before pitching the deal, you’re missing a critical component to your contemporary sales approach.

8 Strategies for Effective Prospect Conversations

By following these consultative selling strategies, you can have more productive and insightful conversations with sales prospects, build rapport, and ultimately increase your chances of closing deals successfully.

1. Prepare Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no response. They encourage prospects to provide more detailed information and insights.

Examples include, “What are your main goals for this project?” or, “How have you approached similar challenges in the past?” Open-ended questions help you better understand the prospect’s needs and concerns.

2. Listen Actively

Active listening involves fully concentrating on what the prospect is saying, without interrupting or formulating your next response while they’re speaking. It involves paying attention to their tone, their body language, and the underlying message behind their words. Active listening demonstrates respect and helps you better understand their perspective.

3. Ask Follow-Up Questions

Follow-up questions show that you’re engaged in the conversation and allow you to dig deeper into the prospect’s responses. They can help you clarify points, gather additional details, or explore new areas of interest. Effective follow-up questions often start with phrases like, “Can you tell me more about…?” or, “What did you mean when you said…?”

4. Avoid Leading Questions

Leading questions are those that suggest or imply a particular answer. They can influence the prospect’s response and potentially lead to biased or inaccurate information. Instead, aim for neutral, open-ended questions that allow the prospect to share their genuine thoughts and opinions.

5. Embrace Silence

Silence can be uncomfortable, but it’s often a powerful tool in sales conversations. Allowing for brief pauses after asking a question gives the prospect time to think and formulate a thoughtful response. Resist the urge to immediately fill the silence, as it can prompt the prospect to provide additional valuable information.

6. Take Notes

Taking notes during the conversation demonstrates that you’re actively listening and value the prospect’s input. It also helps you remember key points, concerns, or action items for future reference. Just be sure to maintain eye contact and avoid excessive note-taking that could appear disengaged.

7. Don’t Interrupt

Interrupting the prospect can be perceived as rude and disrespectful. It can also cause you to miss important information or context. Practice patience and allow the prospect to finish their thoughts before responding or asking a follow-up question.

8. Focus Questions Strategically

While open-ended questions are valuable, it’s also important to keep the conversation focused on the prospect’s needs and your ability to provide a solution. Strategic questioning should aim to uncover the prospect’s pain points, goals, decision-making process, and any potential objections or concerns they may have.

How to Coach Your Sales Professionals for Better Sales Conversations

In our webinar, Sales Questioning Skills That Win More Deals, Corey and I describe five techniques sales leaders can use to help their teams ask better questions and have better sales coaching conversations.

This sales coaching process focuses on facilitating self-discovery, providing specific feedback, and creating opportunities for practical application and reinforcement.

Observe and Let Them Fail

Sales leaders should observe their sales professionals during actual sales conversations or role-playing scenarios. Instead of immediately correcting mistakes, it’s important to let the sales professional experience failure or less-than-ideal outcomes.

This provides an opportunity for self-reflection, where the sales professional can identify areas for improvement on their own. After the interaction, the sales leader can facilitate a discussion to help the sales professional understand what went well and what could be improved.

Verify 5 Characteristics of a Qualified Opportunity

Sales leaders should coach their teams to verify the presence of five key characteristics of a qualified sales opportunity. These characteristics typically include: (1) a clearly identified need or pain point, (2) a decision-maker involved in the process, (3) a defined budget or willingness to invest, (4) a timeline for making a decision, and (5) a compelling event or reason for the prospect to take action.

By verifying these characteristics during sales conversations, sales professionals can better qualify leads and prioritize their efforts on the most promising opportunities.

Ask Coaching Questions

Instead of providing direct feedback or instructions, sales leaders can use coaching questions to help sales professionals develop their own insights and solutions.

Effective coaching questions include:

  • What do you think went well during that conversation?
  • If you could do it again, how would you approach differently?
  • How can you position our solution to address their specific pain points?
  • What questions will you ask to open the conversation?
  • What is your desired outcome from this call?
  • What key needs, wants, and issues have you identified?
  • What was your recommended next step with the customer?

Use Reporting Tools and Call Reviews

Many sales organizations have tools that allow recording and reviewing of sales calls or conversations. Sales leaders can leverage these tools to conduct call reviews with their sales professionals.

By listening to actual conversations, they can provide specific feedback on areas such as questioning techniques, active listening, objection handling, and value proposition delivery. Call reviews can be a powerful coaching tool when done constructively.

The 13 Best Consultative Selling Question Examples

Though the heart of consultative selling is a tailored approach, we find that these questions have proven to be highly effective at establishing value and strong customer relationships.

  1. What are some of the major challenges within your business in the past 12 months?
  2. What impact have these had on your profits/morale/success?
  3. What, if anything, is something you would never want to see changed?
  4. What do you like most about your current supplier?
  5. What kind of time frame are you working within?
  6. What kind of budget range do you have in mind?
  7. What have you seen that’s particularly appealed to you?
  8. What process do you use to make this type of decision?
  9. Who else, other than you, of course, is involved in this decision?
  10. If you could change anything about your current situation, what would it be?
  11. What is the single thing that’s most important to you about this decision?
  12. If we were able to solve your problem, what would this mean to your organization?
  13. What would solving your problem mean to you personally?

By implementing these recommendations, you can effectively develop your sales professionals’ ability to ask consultative selling questions and have more productive sales conversations.

Improve Your Sales Team’s Questioning Skills with IMPACT Sales Training

IMPACT Selling® is a buyer-focused, consultative sales process used by sales teams around the world, in many B2B industries. This consultative sales training program helps sellers connect with buyers and communicate the value of their product and services—solving challenges for the client while growing revenue.

Download the IMPACT Selling® info packet.

Written By

Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is the Vice President of Sales Performance Research. In her role, she is responsible for spearheading industry research initiatives, overseeing consulting and diagnostic services, and facilitating ROI measurement processes with partnering organizations. Michelle brings over 25 years of experience in sales and sales effectiveness functions through previously held roles in curriculum design, training implementation, and product development to the Sales Performance Research Center.
Michelle Richardson is the Vice President of Sales Performance Research. In her role, she is responsible for spearheading industry research initiatives, overseeing consulting and diagnostic services, and facilitating ROI measurement processes with partnering organizations. Michelle brings over 25 years of experience in sales and sales effectiveness functions through previously held roles in curriculum design, training implementation, and product development to the Sales Performance Research Center.

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