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Every sales professional needs to have a good repertoire of questions to ask customers throughout the sales process. Questions make or break deals, if you want to get a good response from people you’re selling too you need to research and practice good questions. This applies especially to new customers you engage with.

You should always be questioning the questions that you want to use to discover which work best. The best questions will work in any sales environment and we have our favourites just like any other business team. In particular, there are fifteen sales questions to ask new customers that should always be in your sales line up.

How is your business doing at the moment?

Times are tough right now and people appreciate empathy. Use this to your advantage and ask this question to build rapport with your target. Not only will you engage with them on a personal level, thus building trust, you may also discover information that you can use to your advantage during further negotiations.

Can you describe your business in your own words?

Similarly to the previous question you should use this technique to put your prospect at ease, so use it at the start of your negotiation. People love to talk about themselves and their work. Make sure you’re taking notes about what they say that you can use to your advantage down the sales pipeline.

Why is your current product not working for you?

If a customer comes to you to replace a product ask them why it’s not working for them. It’s important to understand what they’ve been accustomed to and what they’ll expect from your product in turn. Should you use this question just don’t come across as too negative and criticise your competitor overmuch.

Can you describe your working process?

This is a good question to ask as not only will it make your current negotiation easier it will also potentially identify other pain points you can exploit. Questioning your prospect about their process should unveil areas you can potentially offer products for. Remember, always think about your next sale during each and every negotiation.

What targets or metrics do you work towards?

Most people working in direct B2B sales have targets to meet or metrics to work under so ask your prospect what theirs are. Questioning prospects about targets and metrics provides you with more information you can use to tweak your deals. It also has the welcome side effect of improving interpersonal rapport.

What’s holding you back from reaching your goals?

Once you know your customer’s targets you can inquire about whether or not they’re meeting them. If not, find out why, and consider how you can either offer a different product or tweak your current offering to help them reach their goal. Be ready to offer a tailor made solution to any issue they might have.

What kind of budget are you working with?

You should be careful asking this question but it’s also a good way to gauge whether the negotiation should go further. Your prospect might not be able to afford your product at all, so why waste your valuable time? Alternatively, you might be able to offer a discount based on their budget.

What are your biggest pain points right now?

Everybody working in sales knows about pain points. We all know that people need products because of them and that salespeople are always looking to identify them. Therefore be upfront and ask your prospects what theirs are, you might be surprised by just how much people appreciate honesty.

What is your decision making process?

Everyone has their own way of coming to a decision so this is a good question to ask. Remember, most people make the decision to buy a product based on emotional not logical impulses. This question helps to expose the emotional impulses that compel them to make a sales decision.

Why is this your priority right now?

This question might appear open ended but don’t be fooled, this is a good question to ask specifically about your product. By asking why your product is a priority you seize the initiative. Whatsmore, your product might be such a priority to your prospect that you can consider increasing the price.

Why is this a low priority right now?

If your prospect responds and says that your product is actually a low priority then don’t despair. Use this to your advantage, by asking this question you can discover how you can make compromises to secure a sale. Be direct and don’t be afraid of pushing a little here.

Are you speaking with any of our competitors right now?

This is certainly a bold question to ask your prospect but it’s very effective. If they answer that they’re not you can push a little harder with your discussion to secure a sale faster. If they tell you the competitors they’re talking with then alter your pitch to compensate, just don’t trash talk too much.

Are you attending any events this year?

Now obviously this question doesn’t apply right now due to the coronavirus crisis but eventually things will get back to normal. When they do sales professionals will continue to meet and network at events and conferences. Learning about the events your prospect attends gives you insight you can use to your benefit.

What needs to be your next step?

When you’re wrapping up your first sales call with a prospect ask them what they expect the next step to be. Customers like to feel that they control the sales process, this question allows them to direct it. If they’re not ready to move forward this question also gives you more information to use to counteract their decision.

Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to discuss?

At the end of your first negotiation with a new customer always ask them this question. Nobody’s perfect, it’s possible that you missed something during your discussion. Asking this question gives you a chance to close a deal when you might have missed it and sets you up well for a return call.

All of these questions will significantly improve your closing rate and boost your bottom line. If we can add one more piece of advice it would be to always be bold. Don’t be afraid of being direct with your prospect and don’t be afraid of taking risks either.

Remember the old Latin proverb ‘audentes Fortuna iuvat’, which means ‘fortune favours the bold.’ Be bold enough to try new techniques and to push the envelope whenever you’re engaged in a new sales negotiation. Also, be as personable and empathetic as possible, so when you’re engaged in your first negotiation with a new customer take notes for the next conversation and learn as much about them as possible.

Let us know how you get on with using these sales questions and what questions you always use when speaking with a new prospect. Stay tuned to our blog as we update it with more content, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to our social media pages too.

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