A Good Question to Ask in Sales: Open-​Ended Questions

open-ended questions

Open-​ended questions are a fantastic way to not only get a back-​and-​forth dialogue going with prospective customers, but also help you mine some valuable information from them. It's a good question to ask in sales because the information you gather can help you determine if pursuing a sale with this particular prospect will be mutually beneficial or simply a waste of both of your time. HubSpot’s Bill Cates understands the value behind these questions, encouraging salespeople to “ask open-​ended questions to build trust and rapport, get to know the prospect and their needs, and begin building a positive relationship.”

An Example of a Good Question to Ask in Sales

In addition to detailing how you should ask these questions, Cates also shares quite a few examples that salespeople can adapt to fit their own business and customers. Below are a few highlights of a good question to ask in sales:

What are your top priorities? 

This is not only an example of an open-​ended question/​a good question to ask in sales, but also a more effective way of asking you prospect, “What is your goal?” This gives the prospective customer more of a chance to provide a holistic view of their wants and needs. “That information,” Cates explains, “can give you valuable insight into how you can position your product or service to better resonate with them.” It can also open up the possibility for multiple solutions that you can provide. For example, if you are a financial advisor, you might ask, “Do you have a retirement goal?” A better, open-​ended question could be, “What are your top retirement priorities?” Or even, “What are your top financial priorities for the future?” which opens up the possibility of them mentioning multiple priorities that you could potentially help with. 

This is just one example of how the use of open-​ended questions can help you qualify leads, create rapport, gain insight, and uncover ways to up- and cross-​sell. After reading Cates’ entire article, including the many other examples, you'll likely agree with his assertion that “open-​ended questions can go a long way.”

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.