If you are in sales, you might find yourself chasing a desire to be a better salesperson. You may be new to sales and just trying to figure out what to do. Or you may be a seasoned rep and you are always looking for ways to get to the next level. Or you may be a sales manager and have a team that you need to develop and improve.

If you fall into any of those groups, getting better at selling can sometimes seem like a maze with no clear path for what to do. But that is not necessarily the case as there is one thing that you can do to immediately improve and that is to simply ask good questions when talking with prospects.

Pre-Qualifying Questions
When you first speak with a prospect, either on a cold call, at an event, or in an email, one goal that you can focus on is to simply get the prospect to agree to have a conversation. This could be scheduling an appointment, meeting, phone call, etc.

In order to determine that it makes sense for both you and your prospect to spend valuable time in a conversation, you should ask a couple of preliminary questions to identify if there is at least a slight fit between what you have to offer and what the prospect needs. There is a great chance that the prospect does not need what you have and to avoid you wasting your time, ask a couple of questions to weed those prospects out.

Here are some examples of pre-qualifying questions that are designed for one of my products:

  • Do you feel like it is challenging to get new sales hires ramped up and performing?
  • Are your resources using any type of script or sales tools that help them with what to say and ask? How do you feel that those are working to help get your team to perform at a high level?
  • Are you concerned about the amount of underperforming sales resources that you regularly have?
  • Do you feel like you know how to get all of your sales resources consistently saying the right pitch when prospecting?
  • Do you feel like all of your sales resources are saying and asking the right questions when talking with prospects?

By adding questions like this to your initial interaction, you will not only make that exchange more productive, but you will also give off a much better first impression.

Hard Qualifying Questions
Once you get more engaged with a prospect it can help to determine how real the deal is before you start spending valuable time on activities like writing proposals, traveling for meetings, putting together demonstrations and presentations, etc.

Here are some hard qualifying questions that you can ask to determine that the prospect is serious and worthy of your valuable time:

  • What happens if you do not do anything and do not make a purchase or make any changes?
  • Is there a date when this purchase needs to be made?
  • What is the time frame that the project needs to work along?
  • What is the budget range that the project needs to fit in?
  • What is the decision-making process?
  • What other options are you considering?

Trial Closing Questions
When you think of closing questions, you might only think about something that you should say at the end of the sales cycle. But trial closing questions are great questions to ask every step of the way.

A trial closing question is a question that checks in with the prospect to see what they are thinking and where they are at mentally. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think of what we have discussed so far?
  • Is this conversation going in the right direction?
  • Is this what you expected to see today?
  • Does this seem like something that would help you?

These questions help you to make sure you are on track and heading in the right direction and you should ask some type of trial close questions just about every time you speak with a prospect.

Closing Questions
At the end of the day, it is really all about closing business, and here are some closing questions to ask to help with that:

  • What would you like to do next?
  • What would you need to be able to make a commitment to move forward?
  • If you had everything that you want, are you prepared to move forward?
  • When are you going to make your final decision?