Questions are the key to successful sales

Two ears and one mouth

There’s a saying about being a good listener — you have two ears and one mouth for a reason; listen twice as much as you talk. This is highly relevant in the sales game. In my experience, the average salesperson talks over 80 percent of the time while they’re selling!

People buy because they have a need. The only way for you to uncover your customers need, is to talk less and listen more. Talking too much is a sure way to lose the sale.

Listen twice as much as you talk. Click To Tweet

Too much information is a bad thing

When you talk too much, you tend to swamp the customer with too much information. If you don’t know their need, what you’re saying is likely to be irrelevant anyway. People don’t buy what you have, they buy how it can help them. They buy the solution. So you need to find out what their challenges and pain points are so you can provide the right solution.


Questions are the key to successful sales


Most sales people who are ineffective, spend far too much time trying to persuade the customer. Instead of taking the time to understand the problem the customer is facing, they’re more interested in telling the customer how great their product or service is. Your customer is looking to solve a particular challenge. It’s your job to find out what that challenge is.

Whomever is talking is buying

There’s another saying in sales – whomever is talking is buying. When the customer is talking, they are buying. When you’re talking, all that’s happening is you’re buying your own jibber jabber.


When the customer is talking, they are buying. Click To Tweet


A great strategy to help you talk less, is ask more open ended questions. These are questions which require a detailed answer and will encourage the customer to talk more. A closed question requires a one word answer, usually yes or no. An open ended question encourages a dialogue.

Try taking note of how much you are talking compared to your customer. You can even have someone else listen in to a sales conversation and have them calculate the amount of time you are talking. Anything over 40 percent is too much!


Ask more open ended questions. Click To Tweet


what to say when someone says it's too expensive

Key to successful sales — here are 20 open ended questions you can practice asking:

Add your own. If you get stuck and you’re not sure what to say next, stick with this rule; ask another question.

  1. How can I help you today?
  2. What brings you in today?
  3. What made you contact me today?
  4. Can you tell me about what you’re hoping to achieve?
  5. What features are most important to you?
  6. Can you help me understand what you’re look for?
  7. What’s your biggest frustration right now?
  8. What has not worked for you in the past?
  9. Can you tell me more about….?
  10. What’s your previous experience with ….?
  11. What’s worked for you in the past?
  12. What frustrates you most about your current service?
  13. What’s the best outcome I could help you achieve?
  14. What’s the biggest obstacle preventing you from reaching your goal?
  15. What would prevent you from choosing xyz solution?
  16. What will make this meeting successful for you?
  17. Can you help me understand the restrictions you have on this project?
  18. Could you explain what the most important thing is you’re trying to achieve today?
  19. What’s the one most important thing you’re looking for?
  20.  How would you feel if I could help you achieve ….?


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Questions are the key to successful sales

28 Replies to “Questions are the key to successful sales”

  1. Really well written. I will definitely be keeping this and integrating in to our solution. Do you read Jeffrey gitomer? Iblove his sales training books. Really funny and straight forward.

  2. This is such an informative and useful post Lisa. Great questions as sometimes it is hard to think of open-ended ones and you need to get the customer to tell you what they really want and Yes or No answers just doesn’t do it.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

  3. What has not worked for you in the past is a great one. Many times customers come in with a plan to buy something that usually isn’t the right thing for them. But you can’t tell them that, you have to help them determine it on their own. This is one of those questions that can help them start going down that path.

  4. “When the customer is talking, they are buying.” Makes a lot of sense. Get them talking, and excited about what they want to achieve. I ask a lot of questions with my prospective clients, and plan to incorporate some of the ones you suggested. Thanks.

  5. Some of these will probably do more harm than good. For instance, if i go to a dealership and I’m standing there looking at a car and a salesperson walks up to me and says “what brings you in today?”
    I’m probably going to be like “obviously I’m looking at cars on a dealerships car-lot because I want to buy a car……. obviously I didn’t come here to get a haircut…”

    Or, “what prompted you to call me?”
    I’d say “well I figured if I wanted to ~buy a car~ I should probably call a car dealership and speak to a car salesmen…”

    If someone is on your lot, or calling you at your dealership, it’s most likely because they want to buy a car……

    1. Thanks for your comments Nikki, I appreciate you giving the info so much thought 🙂 Every single business is different and your questions need to be relevant to your business. The 20 questions in the list are obviously not relevant to every single business. The point is that you have to ask open ended questions to find out how you can help your customer. I do have to respectfully disagree though about your example of a customer walking into a car yard. If you walk onto my car lot, I have no idea what your intention is until I ask (and I have no right to assume what your intention is). You may want to buy a car today (but how do I know which car is right for you?), you might have a particular car in mind which you’d like to test drive, you might want to compare two specific cars, you might be looking at a car for a friend, you might want to ask about getting a quote for a trade in, you might want to ask about aftermarket accessories available for a particular model, you might want to compare the base and luxury version of the same car etc. Any customer walking into your business has need related to what you offer but you’ll never know what their requirements are until you ask! All the best 🙂

  6. Good stuff, Ms. Newman-Morris! I will use these questions today. Then I will shut my mouth and listen to understand. This is real meat and potatoes. Thanks.

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