Powerful Sales Questions to Ask Prospects

BY Jessica Helinski
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Sellers who ask powerful sales questions position themselves for success. They can leverage the valuable knowledge gained from these questions to develop relationships, show value and close sales.

Powerful Sales Questions Build the Bigger Picture

Questions play a big role throughout the entire sales process. And each question presents an opportunity to learn and engage with a prospect. And, as Rio.io’s Nataliia Ponomarenko explains, it shows you care.

Employing discovery questions for sales and probing questions for sales, customers feel valued and understood…”

And the stronger the questions, the better. Each question has the power to unlock valuable insights. You gain a deeper understanding of vital details, like the buyer’s pain points, motivations, customers, and goals.

She likens the process to putting together a puzzle. Each response from a question is a piece of the puzzle. They work together and build until, finally, you have the complete picture.

This insight allows you to tailor your approach, making your sales pitch more relevant and impactful,” she adds.

You can fine-​tune your sales tactics, making them more impactful and persuasive.”

But, sellers admit to struggling with questions. SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep study found 20% of reps say discovery questions are one of their top weaknesses. 

The Right Questions and When to Ask Them

Different types of powerful sales questions lead to different types of insights. Smart sellers understand what to ask when seeking specific types of information. Being strategic about when you ask is just as important.

All sellers must understand the very basic needs of each prospect to progress a sale. 

You’re not in a position to sell until you’ve undergone a thorough analysis of a prospects needs,” explains sales professional Bryan Tracy

You should use specific questions to understand the foundation of the buyer’s needs. The answers will help guide your strategy and how you present your solution. Ponomarenko suggests adding these two to your strategy:

What motivated you to look for a solution like ours today?”

This basic question gets to the heart of a prospect’s basic needs. It will give you insight into what their primary motivations are and clues you in to where your solution can help. 

Can you describe a typical day in your role and how our product/​service might fit into it?”

The prospect’s response will paint a picture of their day-​to-​day routines. Understanding their job and its responsibilities gives the opportunity to determine how your solution can fit in seamlessly. 

What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing that you believe our product/​service could address?”

As Ponomarkenko writes, “It’s like asking someone what’s bothering them so you can offer the right remedy.”

You can learn what is currently challenging them and identify features that will address those challenges. And while you may uncover other challenges further in the process, you can immediately address what’s bothering them currently. 

Dig Deeper 

Another example of powerful sales questions are those that go beyond the surface. Probing questions help sellers go even deeper in their exploration of a prospect and their business. 

It’s important though to save these questions for a bit further in the process, suggests Lisa Rose, The Brooks Group

Once rapport is established, deep probing questions can be asked at any point in the process.”

Plus, sellers must first have some insights to use as the base for their deeper probing questions. Make sure you’ve gathered enough information to build on before you reach this stage of questioning. 

Examples from Ponomarenko include: 

  • How have your needs evolved over the past year, and where do you see them going in the future?”
  • Can you tell me about a time when your current solution didn’t meet your expectations?”
  • Are there any internal constraints, like budget or resources, that could impact your decision-​making process?”

Make Sure to Listen

And no matter what type of question you ask, they’ll lose their power if you don’t actively listen to the response. 

By mastering active listening, you turn ordinary sales interactions into opportunities for meaningful connection,” she adds. 

For advice on how to engage in active listening, consider these helpful tips

And for more powerful sales question suggestions, take a look at these other suggestions.

Photo by Filip Rankovic Grobgaard