“Are you open to… is my all-time favorite phrase because nobody wants to admit they are not open-minded,” says Merit Kahn, CEO of SELLect Sales Development. “Questions with yes/no answers don’t give salespeople the information they need to qualify or disqualify opportunities.”
It takes practice and time to develop an effective questioning strategy successfully, but the effort will be well worth it when it comes time to close the deal. Open-ended questions are proven to be effective in helping reps make more sales. In this guide, we have compiled a list of the top open-ended questions to build rapport and increase profits.
What Are Open-Ended Sales Questions?
Open-ended sales questions are typically unstructured and have no definitive answer. Rather, the goal is aimed at prompting a more in-depth and insightful response from the buyer. This type of sales question often begins with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Open-ended sales questions require the customer to really think before they respond, as opposed to simply choosing a “yes” or “no” answer. In addition, here are a few key characteristics of compelling open-ended sales questions:
- The prospect’s answer involves ideas and opinions, as opposed to straight facts.
- The dialogue should feel like a conversation, not an interrogation.
- The prospect has the opportunity to elaborate and be forthcoming on information.
- The customer takes time to think and reflect before stating their answer.
In addition, open-ended sales questions are great for executing both in-person and virtual sales.
Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Sales Questions
As opposed to open-ended questions, closed-ended sales questions are more structured and will almost always lead to a definitive answer. These questions can be effective for diagnosis, but not so much for relationship-building. Asking closed-ended questions allows you to uncover needs that the buyer may not yet perceive as a problem—but once you ask them specifically, they are more likely to reconsider.
Below are a few examples of closed-ended sales questions that elicit only short, fact-based answers… and you may not get the real truth.
- “Were you satisfied with your last vendor?”
- “Do you like this feature that our product provides?”
- “When are you available to meet again?”
Keep reading to learn how to ask probing questions in sales that will significantly boost your business.
Different Types of Open-Ended Sales Questions
When asking open-ended questions in sales, it’s important to know which ones to use. Different situations require specific sales discovery questions. Prepare for meetings with your prospects by familiarizing yourself with these five different types of open-ended questions for sales.
1. Benefit-Driven Open-Ended Questions
Benefit-Driven Questions, also known as Impact-Driven Questions, will help you close the sale. These types of open-ended questions help you understand which features are the most vital to the customer, so you can focus on what interests them most about your product.
- “How do you believe these changes will impact your organization?”
- “Which area about our product do you still have questions about?”
- “If this issue remains unsolved, how will it affect your future?”
2. Needs-Based Open-Ended Sales Questions
When you want to understand your customer’s wants or challenges involving their current situation, consider asking Needs-Based Questions. These put focus on areas that involve your product or service. Here are a few examples:
- “What’s preventing you from hitting your goals?”
- “What do you think about our offer so far?”
- “Why isn’t your current solution working for you?”
3. Rapport Building Open-Ended Sales Questions
When sales professionals want to establish a personal connection with a potential customer, they can utilize Rapport Building Questions. When you neglect to form a relationship with the buyer, you’re missing out on important information that can help you close the sale. Below are a few effective rapport-building open-ended questions examples in sales.
- “What were you doing before you were at this company?”
- “What’s going on in your business these days?”
- “What did you do over the weekend?”
- “What motivated you to take this call with me?”
4. Future-Based Open-Ended Questions
Questions that revolve around a new future or reality are constructed to help sellers show the potential customer how their product or service will help them arrive at their goals.
- “How do you think this solution could improve your day-to-day work?”
- “Who do you think will benefit most from this transformation and why?”
- “What are the biggest challenges you see in this approach?”
- “What changes can you make to achieve your long-term goals?
5. Buyer History Open-Ended Questions
Lastly, this type of open-ended question can help sales reps understand the prospect’s past experiences and purchasing habits. Buyer History questions seek to learn more about the customer’s decision-making process. In addition, these questions can help determine the state of their relationship with their current provider. This can significantly benefit your sales process.
- “Why is the current solution no longer working for you?”
- “How would you describe your experience with your current provider?”
- “What steps have you taken to solve your current problems?
Grow Your Business With SELLect Sales Training & Development
Stop selling, start getting SELLected. Now that you know all the best open-ended questions for sales, you should be ready to implement new strategies and make positive changes that will ultimately grow your company.
Do you need advanced online sales training for your business? SELLect Sales has the experience and tools that you need to create your most effective sales team. Our library of online training videos, interactive webinars, tools, and templates are designed to help you find prospects, qualify opportunities, and close deals.
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