I have been thinking a lot about sales questions lately also referred to as question-based selling. Overall, asking the right kind of sales questions empowers you to effectively understand your customers, tailor your approach, address objections, and guide the sales process. Probing for the right answers improves your chances aligning to the buyer’s pain points and providing a solution that meets the buyer’s needs and increases the likelihood of successful sales outcomes.
But many sales professionals don’t pay enough attention to this crucial skill—and some sales training programs overlook effective type of sales questions altogether.
Learning how to ask the right type of sales questions can improve your results in five important ways.
1. Understand Customer Needs
Effective sales questions help you gain a deep understanding of your customer’s needs, challenges, and goals through accurately probing for the right answers. This understanding allows you to tailor your offering and demonstrate how your product or service can address their specific pain points. By asking the right types of questions, you can uncover valuable insights and build a stronger connection with the customer.
2. Build Trust and Rapport
Asking thoughtful and relevant sales questions shows that you genuinely care about your customer’s success. It demonstrates your commitment to finding the best solution for their unique situation. By actively listening to their responses and engaging in meaningful sales conversations, you build trust, credibility, and rapport, which are essential for establishing long-term customer relationships.
3. Customize the Sales Approach
Different customers have different priorities, preferences, and decision-making processes. By asking the right questions, you can gather information that allows you to customize your sales approach and sales pitch accordingly. This helps you present your product or service in a way that resonates with the customer, highlighting the specific benefits and features that are most relevant to them.
4. Overcome Objections
Sales questions enable you to anticipate and address potential objections or concerns proactively. By understanding the customer’s hesitations, doubts, or reservations, you can provide accurate information, clarify misunderstandings, and present compelling arguments that alleviate their concerns. This helps in overcoming objections and increasing the chances of closing the sale.
5. Guide the Sales Process
Well-crafted sales questions act as a guide throughout the sales process. They help you navigate the conversation, uncover essential information at each stage, and identify the appropriate next steps. By asking the right questions, you can lead the customer through a structured journey that aligns their needs with the value your product or service offers.
9 Types of Sales Questions To Ask
Type of Sales Question #1: Problem-Resolution Questions.
These sales questions aim to identify the specific challenges or issues faced by the customer and explore potential solutions to address those problems.
Type of Sales Question #2: Agitation Questions.
These questions focus on intensifying or highlighting the pain points or negative consequences associated with the customer’s current situation, aiming to create a sense of urgency or dissatisfaction that motivates them to seek a solution.
Type of Sales Question #3: Solution- and Feeling-Based Questions.
These questions help the salesperson understand the customer’s desired outcome and the emotional benefits they seek from a solution, enabling the salesperson to tailor their pitch and emphasize how their offering can fulfill those needs.
Type of Sales Question #4: Needs-Based Questions.
These questions delve into the customer’s needs, preferences, and priorities, allowing the salesperson to align their product or service features with the specific requirements of the customer.
Type of Sales Question #5: Feature-Benefit Questions.
These questions explore the features of the product or service and link them directly to the benefits and advantages they offer, helping the salesperson demonstrate how the features address the customer’s needs.
Type of Sales Question #6: Objection-Testing Questions.
These questions aim to identify potential objections or concerns the customer might have and test the validity of those objections, allowing the salesperson to address them effectively and provide reassurance or clarification.
Type of Sales Question #7: Yes/No Questions.
These questions typically elicit a straightforward “yes” or “no” response and are useful for confirming understanding, verifying agreement, or guiding the customer towards a decision.
Type of Sales Question #8: Level-1, -2, and -3 Questions.
These questions represent a hierarchy of increasing depth and complexity, where Level-1 questions are basic and surface-level, Level-2 questions dig deeper into the customer’s needs and motivations, and Level-3 questions are thought-provoking and exploratory, encouraging the customer to reflect and consider new perspectives.
Type of Sales Question #9: Silver Bullet Questions.
These questions aim to identify the customer’s ultimate goal or objective, often uncovering a specific pain point or desired outcome that serves as the primary driver for their decision-making process.
The Art of Deploying the Right Type of Sales Questions
Of course, virtually anyone can learn a string of questions. That’s the science of sales. The art is how to deploy them in a way that allows two things to occur simultaneously:
- Your prospect or customer provides you with information and feels as though they’re in control.
- You obtain information while maintaining control of the sales process.
To deploy sales questions in a way that achieves both objectives, follow the seven sales strategies below.
1. Establish Rapport and Active Listening:
Begin by building rapport with the customer to create a comfortable and open environment. Actively listen to their responses and show genuine interest in their perspective. This approach helps the customer feel valued and heard while gathering valuable information.
2. Use Open-Ended Sales Questions:
Frame your conversation with open-ended questions, allowing the customer to provide detailed responses and share their thoughts, needs, and preferences. Open-ended sales questions encourage a more interactive and conversational exchange, giving the customer a sense of control over the direction of the conversation.
3. Focus on Their Agenda:
Instead of solely focusing on your own agenda, prioritize the customer’s agenda and objectives. Ask consultative selling questions that allow them to express their goals, challenges, and desired outcomes. By aligning your questions with their priorities, you convey that their needs are paramount and that you’re invested in their success.
4. Provide Context and Guidance:
While giving the customer a sense of control, you can still guide the conversation by providing context and direction when necessary. Offer insights, share relevant information, and steer the discussion towards topics that are important for both the customer and your sales objectives. This helps you maintain control of the buying process without appearing overbearing.
5. Use Transitional Questions:
Utilize transitional questions to smoothly transition from one topic to another while keeping the customer engaged. These questions help you move the conversation forward while still allowing the customer to feel involved and in control. Transitional questions can also redirect the discussion toward areas that require exploration.
6. Share Expertise and Insights:
As the sales professional, you have valuable expertise and insights to offer. Share relevant information, industry trends, or success stories that provide added value to the customer. By positioning yourself as a knowledgeable resource and a consultant, not just a seller, you maintain a level of control while enhancing the customer’s perception of your credibility.
7. Summarize and Confirm Understanding:
Throughout the sales conversation, summarize key points and insights to ensure mutual understanding. Confirming your understanding shows respect for the customer’s perspective while also allowing you to maintain control by guiding the conversation back to essential aspects or clarifying any misconceptions.
By incorporating these strategies, you can create a balanced dynamic where the customer feels empowered and in control while you gather the necessary information and guide the buying process towards a mutually beneficial outcome.
Training for Sales Success
The success of the IMPACT Selling® System lies in its ability to allow prospects to feel like they’re leading the process. This is especially important in today’s selling environment, in which customers have more information than ever before. At the same time, a strategic use of questions allows the salesperson to move sales interactions forward and generate better results.
Find out how to train your team to ask better sales questions with our IMPACT Professional Sales Training Program.