When I’m asked what most sellers can do in order to virtually instantly improve their results, my answer is often simple: ask better questions. The quality of your sales depends on the quality of your conversations. Let that sink in for a second. The quality of your sales. Depends. On the quality of your conversations. Questions help us connect with others. Have more engaging conversations. Build rapport. And finally, questions can help us create an atmosphere of collaboration (and thereby win more deals).
Open Ended Sales Questions: My Personal Top-5
The difference between a question and a great question is this: questions produce answers. Great questions produce insights.
With that in mind, here’s a list of my personal, all-time favourite open ended sales questions.
1. “Imagine we were sitting down together in 12 months. What would have changed ?”
This question is great for early-stage discovery meetings – especially those where a buyer is unclear on what exactly they are looking for in terms of end results. It helps the buyer clarify for themselves what kind of end results they are looking for – and positions you as someone who helped them start that process, and get true clarity on what they want.
2. “What’s your #1 headache or problem right now ?”
Where the previous questions helps a buyer get clear on what they want, this one helps them focus on what they don’t want – or, what they want to get away from or avoid. When asked together, these two questions form a powerful combination that helps you uncover the afflictions and aspirations buyers are faced with – and position your services as the way to resolve them.
3. “Think of your #1 performer right now. What’s he/she doing (differently) ?”
Where the previous two questions probe for afflictions (“things they don’t want”) and aspirations (“things they do want”), this question helps uncover what’s already going well (“things they want more of”).
By helping your buyer reflect on what star performers inside their organisation are doing, you help them uncover best practices and success stories to highlight inside their organisation – as well as find examples of behaviours and practices that others should emulate.
4. “What’s the #1 thing that will have to change ?”
This question is designed to prioritise – for any given problem (affliction) or situation, multiple solutions may exist, and many things could (or “should”) be done about it. This question helps bring out where to start, and what to do first. Out of all the possible options, asking this questions helps you (and your buyer) zoom in on what exactly should be done first in order to make progress and improve.
5. “What’s the #1 thing your team/organisation needs ?”
Finally, this question will identify what the team, organisation or group needs in order to get started. Asking this question will clarify the resources (time, money, management support, attention, mandate, …) the project needs in order to get started – hopefully, including your services.
Asking these 5 open ended sales questions will help your buyer get clear on:
- Their objectives and what they “want more of”
- Their challenges and what they “want less of”
- Best practices, examples and success stories to build from
- What to prioritise and work on first
- Which resources will be required in order to get started