Powerful Sales Questions to Ask Your Prospect

Sales meeting
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Asking sales questions of each and every prospect will make your sales process 10 times easier. It's just that simple. Sales questions uncover the prospect's needs, which means you can deliver a pitch designed to appeal to exactly those needs that are most important to your prospect. Any question that allows you to get closer to understanding your prospect's needs is a good one, but certain sales questions are both extremely powerful and useful for nearly every prospect, whatever his individual situation may be.

What's Changed Recently?

This question can be phrased in several different ways, such as "How has your industry changed in the past six months?" or "What is changed in the way you do business?" or even "What changes do you expect to see in the near future?" However you phrase it, this question digs at what has changed for your prospect and how he has reacted or expects to react. Understanding the changes affecting your prospect gives you an excellent look at his needs and how they may be changing as well. Because everyone fears change, talking about changes will also give you a glimpse at your prospect's emotional state.

When he talks about what's changed, does he react with strong anxiety or does he seem pleased and excited? That's an important clue that you can use to direct your next set of questions.

What Would You Like to Talk About?

What a powerful way to focus the conversation on whatever matters most to the prospect! The best time to ask this question is right after scheduling a sales appointment or other meeting with a prospect or customer. This allows you to get an advance peek at your prospect's needs and to come up with other questions (and comments) that are designed to appeal to those needs. Another good time to ask this question is when you're having trouble getting an understanding of the prospect. Sometimes, even though you're asking all the right questions, you're getting nothing but monosyllabic and yes-or-no answers.

Asking the prospect to pick a topic helps you to find a way through that resistance.

Do You Have Any Questions?

This question is almost mandatory after you've finished a sales presentation. Another and equally relevant way to phrase it is, "Do you have any concerns?" You'd probably choose this phrasing if you noticed the prospect's body language during your presentation was less than positive. In fact, if a prospect seems to react negatively at any point during your presentation, you should probably pause and ask this question. It's better to find out right away if you've said something that bothers the prospect or that he disagrees with.

Asking this question in either form after a presentation is a great way to fish for objections. The sooner you can get those objections out in the open and resolved, the sooner you can move along with the sales process.

What Do You Need to Move Forward?

Once you've uncovered the prospect's needs, made your pitch, and answered any objections, it's time to find out where you stand with the prospect. In the best case scenario, your prospect will answer this question with, "I'm ready to buy now!" At this point, you can pull out your paperwork and get his name on the dotted line. On the other hand, if you get an answer along the lines of "I'll need to think about it" or something equally vague, you're in trouble. Either the prospect is not at all interested and just wants to get rid of you peacefully, or he's mildly interested but feels no need to move forward at this time.

Getting this response tells you that you have a lot of work to do before you can hope to close the sale. Many times you'll get a response somewhere in between those two, such as "I'll need to look at a couple of your competitors first" or "I need to give your proposal to my boss and get approval before we can move forward." This question is powerful because it tells you exactly what you need to do to close the sale.