51 Examples of Powerful Open-Ended Sales Questions

By: Larissa DiStefano | Vice President of Marketing
April 16, 2024
open ended sales questions examples

As a sales leader, meeting your organization’s revenue goal is job #1. That means helping your sales professionals be the best sellers they can be is a high priority. One simple way to accomplish this is to train your sales team to ask better open-ended 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.

By practicing this consultative approach, sales professionals can become highly skilled at uncovering a buyer’s true needs. The key is to avoid closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Instead, use questions that start with words like “what,” “how,” “when,” and “why.” This encourages the buyer to provide more detailed, insightful responses.

We’ve compiled a list of open-ended sales question examples to help sales professionals gather more information during sales discovery about buyers and their situations. Armed with the answers they need, your team will be able to recommend the best solution and close more deals, more often.​

Benefits of Using Open-Ended Questions

Before we dive in, here are the main benefits of an open-ended approach:

Uncover Prospects’ Needs

Open-ended sales questions encourage the buyer to share more information about their challenges, goals, and pain points. This allows the sales professional to better understand the buyer’s true needs rather than making assumptions.

Build Rapport

By shifting the conversation away from a sales pitch and instead focusing on the buyer’s needs, the sales professional can build stronger rapport and trust with the customer.

Customize Solutions

With a deeper understanding of the buyer’s unique situation, the sales professional can then tailor their product/service recommendations to provide the most relevant and valuable solution.

Uncover Objections

Open-ended questions give the buyer space to voice any concerns or hesitations they may have. Addressing these upfront prevents them from becoming roadblocks later.

Become a Strategic Partner

Asking thoughtful questions and actively listening positions the sales professional as a trusted advisor rather than just a pushy salesperson. This increases the likelihood of the buyer viewing the sales professional as a collaborative partner.

Best Open-Ended Sales Questions

Rapport-Building Questions

Rapport-building sales questions help the sales professional connect and establish trust with the person (or people) they’re speaking with.

It’s important to keep in mind that buyers have different styles. A “driver” may not want to spend as much time building rapport with you as a “socializer” does.

An experienced sales professional should be able to determine a buyer’s behavior style in the first few moments of conversation and know whether they will appreciate rapport-building questions.

Taking a personal sales assessment can help sales professionals understand their communication style and tendencies so they can match or adapt their style to the buyer’s.

Examples of open-ended sales questions for rapport-building include:

  • What are you up to this weekend/upcoming holiday?
  • Are you taking any vacation time this summer (season)?
  • How are your children/partner/friends 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 obstacles or problems that have arisen?
  • What got you into this line of work/company?
  • What are some of your personal goals and priorities right now?
  • What is your situation like at work these days?

Problem Questions

Problem questions help uncover a prospect’s priorities and motivating factors.

Examples of open-ended problem questions include:

  • What prompted you to call/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

Impact questions help the sales professional and the prospect explore pain points and reach a mutual understanding. The goal is to be on the same page about the investment required to solve a problem.

Examples of open-ended impact questions include:

  • How much does this problem currently cost your company?
  • How much does it cost you, personally, in terms of time, money, and/or effort?
  • What non-monetary costs are associated with the problem?
  • How long has this been a problem?
  • 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

Solution questions begin the process of defining a solution 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 is on your want-to-have list?
  • 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 sales professional 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 to make your decision?
  • What obstacles have you faced in the past when trying to make a similar decision?

Budget Questions

Budget questions help the sales professional design an appropriate solution and can help the customer 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

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:

  • Could you tell me more about that?
  • 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?

Objection Questions

The right open-ended questions can help sales professionals avoid some objections and lead the customer past any that do arise.

To arm your salespeople with examples of open-ended objection questions, find out what the most common objections are. Then tailor example questions for them to head off or address those issues.

Examples of open-ended objection questions include:

  • Who else will be involved in this decision? (Avoids the “I have to ask my boss” objection)
  • What type of budget do you have for this solution? (Avoids the “your price is too high” objection)
  • What else do you need to make this decision? (Avoids the “I need to think about it” objection)

Practicing an Open-Ended Approach

When sales professionals move to the next stage of the sales process without complete information, they’re less likely to close the sale. A successful sales questioning strategy avoids closed-ended questions that result in one-word answers.

Coach your team to practice using open-ended questions and active listening to uncover buyer needs and wants, deliver the best solutions, and increase sales.

Learn More

The Brooks Group’s IMPACT Selling® program teaches sales professionals a six-step consultative sales process and selling skills that help them succeed at every stage of the sales cycle.

13 Winning Questions
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13 Winning Questions

Are you asking the right questions? Every new prospect should be asked questions that are tailored specifically for them, but these 13 have proven to be winners—over the years and in hundreds of industries.

Written By

Larissa DiStefano

Larissa DiStefano is the VP of Marketing for The Brooks Group. She has over 20 years of experience in B2B sales and marketing with a proven track record of success in developing and executing strategic marketing plans that drive revenue growth.
Written By

Larissa DiStefano

Larissa DiStefano is the VP of Marketing for The Brooks Group. She has over 20 years of experience in B2B sales and marketing with a proven track record of success in developing and executing strategic marketing plans that drive revenue growth.

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