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26 Questions for Sales Appointments

The stereotypical salesperson is someone who talks all the time and never listens to his customers. That kind of salesperson in real life is not a successful one, because listening to prospects is the only way to uncover their needs. And a prospect’s needs are the key to matching them up with the right product. Not to mention the fact that talking over someone and never giving them a chance to respond will probably really annoy them, not put them in a buying mood.

Salespeople have two ears and one mouth, and sales experts say that’s about the proportion in which those parts should be used. In other words, salespeople should listen twice as much as they talk. Of course, some prospects are hesitant to just start spilling information about themselves. In that case, asking some good open-ended questions is the best way to prime the pump. Once a prospect starts to get going, she’ll usually keep going and will end up providing plenty of useful details. Here are some useful all-purpose questions for sales appointments.

Buying History Questions
By learning more about the prospect’s previous experiences with similar products, you’ll get a better idea of what’s important to him and what doesn’t really matter.
*What buying experiences, good or bad, have you had with [product type]? (e.g. “What buying experiences, good or bad, have you had with digital cameras?”)
*When did you last buy a [product type]?
*What process have you gone through in the past before buying a [product type]?
*Has that process worked well for you? How/how not?
*What have you tried doing to fix the problem with your current [product type]?
*What have you purchased from us before?
*How did that purchase go?

Purchase-Specific Questions
These questions relate to the specific sale you’re hoping to close with the prospect.
*What prompted you to meet with me today?
*What features do you look for in a [product type]?
*Which feature is most important to you?
*What don’t you like to have in a [product type]?
*What is your time line for buying a [product type]?
*What is your budget?
*Who else is involved in making the purchasing decision?

Rapport-Building Questions
These questions get your prospect talking about himself and help you develop some level of trust or at least liking. They can also give you insight into the prospect’s likes and dislikes, which can help quite a bit in determining the most appropriate benefits to cite.
*How long have you been with the company? (for B2B sales)
*Where did you buy that beautiful sofa? (B2C)
*How old are your children? How many do you have? (If you see a photo)
*What would you like this [product type] to do for you?

Clarifying Questions
If a prospect gives only a brief response to a question that you think is important, try using one of these questions to draw out more information.
*Tell me more about that.
*Can you give me an example?
*Can you be more specific?
*How did that affect you?

Objection-Seeking Questions
Until your prospect shares his objections, you can’t do anything to resolve them. That’s what makes unvoiced objections very dangerous to your sale. If a prospect hasn’t raised any objections or you think she’s holding back, then one of these questions may draw those concerns out.
*What are your thoughts so far?
*Do you have any concerns about what we’ve talked about so far? What are they?
*What other subjects should we discuss?
*Is there any reason we shouldn’t move forward?

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.