Sales – What are the Key Questions that can help you Close?


Sales – What are the Key Questions that help you to close?

Sales training is so important to business; after all if your team are not selling effectively then you really don’t have much of a business.  Recently I posted a blog called Nil By Mouth that reinforced the importance of sales people using the phone to sell and not relying on email to do the talking for them.  Building on this I wanted to take a moment to reinforce the importance of questioning skills, especially questions that can help your teams to close more effectively.

What are the Questions that help salespeople to close?

Let’s quickly remind ourselves that open questions begin with Who What Why When Where and How, we call know that, and yet when I am training even the most seasoned sales people, very few understand the implications of these questions

The Power of Why.

When you ask a client a question beginning with ‘why’ the answer, just like when you ask anyone a question beginning with ‘why’ will usually have a ‘because’ at the start.  Let’s look at an example.

Sales Person “Why did you choose to buy that particular product? “

Client “ Because we had read some terrific reviews and the sales person said came out the best.”

What is happening here is that the buyer genuinely believed that they were making the right decision and so went ahead and bought it.  Now let’s play that scenario again only this time let’s see what the common sales person response might be.

Sales Person “Why did you choose to buy that particular product? “

Client“ Because we had read some terrific reviews and the sales person said it came out the best.”

Sales Person “Oh really. Our product has also had some great reviews too, in fact in a recent group test it came out as not only best value but also best quality?”

You see what is going on? The sales person has chosen to move to a position of questioning and defending, which could make the client feel challenged or made to feel that they have made the wrong decision. Furthermore it could also reinforce the myth that sales people rip people off and so inadvertently you are potentially being the same way.

It would be better to say this

Sales Person “Why did you choose to buy that particular product? “

Client“ Because we had read some terrific reviews and the sales person said it came out the best.”

Sales Person “ It is so good that you bought that product based on reviews and recommendations, word of mouth is so powerful.   What specifically was it about the review of the product that drew you to decided to buy it?”

Client “We really love the quality of the product, not to mention the guarantee that went with it, it makes such a difference to buy products with guarantees.”

By choosing to reinforce the clients buying decision and support the idea of how it came about, the client was then open to being asked about the reasons why those things were important, therefore uncovering a key motivator that can be matched by the sales persons own product.

Every time you ask a question beginning with ‘why’ listen out for the ‘because’ and listen carefully for the belief that is uncovered, do not contradict it, support it and ask around it further to uncover opportunities to offer value and close.

When will you be mine?

Questions that begin with ‘when’ are super powerful as they have a direct link to time. Be it the client’s timeline for buying, for product delivery, for strategic objectives, for goals or the beginning of a campaign.  It is so important to ask this question early on in the sale to establish whether the client is qualified to buy or in the market to buy as it gives you a guide to managing theirs and your expectations.  You can then confirm the specific timing back to them; therefore reaffirming you have listened and are able to talk in terms of solution in that time frame.

“When were you looking to have the marketing campaign for your new products start?”

“Ideally we need to be rolling it out in the run up to launch so about three months time.”

“Ok, sounds good, so that would be the beginning of August for a November release, yes’?

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Great that gives us plenty of time to get things right for you and come up with a great proposal, I just have a few more questions and then I could put a proposal together for you with some ideas, is that OK?”

By asking ‘when’ questions gives you flexibility, manages expectations and gives you a chance to test close the client by asking for permission to move forward.

How do you do.

Nothing to do with saying hello, but literally “how do you do that?” By asking questions that begin with “How” you will uncover process, procedure and in some cases the preferred path that the client would like to take leading up to the sale.  We need to get under the skin of a client’s purchase so ‘how’ questions supported by ‘when’ questions are a cracking combination.

Sales Person “How will you go about advertising your new website with the ‘click and collect’ feature?”

Client “Well, right now we aren’t set on one specific way, however we know that print advertising helps to drive traffic to our site, so we are thinking of placing print ads promoting the new click and collect service with a direct call to action statement within the advert.”

Sales Person “You are right, print can help accelerate people to websites, and consideration for the print copy to include what you have mentioned would be wise, of course we need to target the right people with the campaign.  Once the ad is created we can certainly reach the largest possible group of readers in your area who are your potential click and collect customers so when would you be thinking of starting this ad campaign?”

Client “Click and Collect will go live in 12 weeks, so we think that the ads should appear at the same time to coincide with the launch.”

The conversation here is very healthy, the sales person has uncovered the process and the clients thinking by asking ‘how’ and with the addition of the ‘when’ question will help them to manage the timeline effectively for the client and close the sale appropriately.   Another ‘how’ question is around money, “how much are you willing to invest in this product?” or ‘How much budget have you allocated to this service being delivered for you?” are great questions as they help you to qualify the client in terms of whether they one, have a budget and two, if they do, can they afford what you are discussing? If you do not ask about budget you will end up with the price objection and if you go too far down the sale without asking about it, then it can be tricky to get over, as you may have inadvertently talked yourself out of a sale or worse, that the client really loves it and then pushes for a hard discount that you cannot give, or perhaps you will, which of course devalues all of your hard work and you product.

Follow How with Why

Another great pairing how the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ as this uncovers process and belief, great stuff, really key for listening to buying signals and getting under the skin of the client’s motivation.

Sales Person “How are you currently going to be measuring the effectiveness of the sales training?”

Client “Initially we will be looking to see if there is an increase in the number of sales calls being made and for people to be getting through to the decision maker to ask the right questions.”

Sales Person “Ok that sounds good, why is it important for the teams to increase their sales calls and ask the right questions?’

Client “Because we have a really big client database that is currently not being covered effectively and by asking the right questions the sales person can qualify and close the sale in a potentially quicker timeframe.”

Sales Person “OK so it would be important to put emphasis on these areas in the training course yes?”

Client. “Absolutely”

This combination uncovers so much, and even though it could at first seem like a dumb question, it will ultimately uncover the key things that are important to the client, getting the sales person where they need to be quicker.

In summary, if we can think about the questions we ask with a view to uncovering motivation, preempting objections, managing expectations and discovering process then it is possible to really craft an effective pitch that delivers value and meaning which can only mean that you will be the first and only choice in your client’s mind.

Thanks for reading this blog, I hope you found it useful, if you or your business needs a no nonsense sales training solution, delivered by a trainer that actually sells then please drop me a line at

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