Do you have the right questions to make the sale?


The most important aspect of making a sale is also a major weakness of every salesperson — asking questions.

Questions are so critical, you’d think it would be the topic of training every week. Yet salespeople are odds-on favorites to have never taken one training program in the science of asking a question.

How critical? The first personal (rapport) question sets the tone for the meeting, and the first business question sets the tone for the sale. That’s critical.


Benefits of asking the right question? Good question.

Here are 9.5 benefits to make sales by asking questions. The right question will:


  1. Qualify the buyer.


  1. Establish rapport.


  1. Create prospect disparity.


  1. Eliminate or differentiate from the competition.


  1. Build credibility.


  1. Know the customer.


  1. Identify needs.


  1. Find hot buttons.


  1. Get personal information.


9.5 Close the sale.


All these answers come from asking the right questions — power questions.


Here’s the rub: Do you have 25 of them — the most powerful questions you can create — at your fingertips? No? Join the crowd, because 95 percent of all salespeople don’t. That could be why only 5 percent of salespeople rise to the top. Just a theory (or is it?).

Here’s the challenge: Get every prospect and customer to say, “No one ever asked me that before.”


Here are the 7.5 questioning success strategies:


  1. Ask the prospect questions that make him evaluate new information.


  1. Ask questions that qualify needs.


  1. Ask questions about improved productivity or profits.


  1. Ask questions about company or personal goals.


  1. Ask questions that separate you from your competition — not compare you to them.


  1. Ask questions that make the customer or prospect think before giving a response.


  1. Ask power questions to create a buying atmosphere — not a selling one.


7.5 A critical success strategy: To enhance your listening skills, write down answers. It proves you care, preserves your data for follow-up, keeps the record straight and makes the customer feel important.



How do you formulate a power question? Here’s the secret:

There’s a secret to creating and asking the right type of power question. Ask a question that makes prospects stop and think about them and their business, and respond in terms of me and my business. Sounds complicated, but it isn’t. Here are some bad examples:


Here are some good examples:


  • If your husband died, how would the house payments be made? How would the children go to college? Instead of: What type of life insurance do you have?


  • If your most important customer called right now, how would you get the message? Instead of: Do you have a pager?


  • If your long-distance charges were 30 percent higher than they should be, how would you know? Instead of: Who do you currently use for long-distance service?


All make the buyer think and respond in terms of his own interests and answer in terms of the seller. Wow.


Here’s a series of questions designed to make my prospect think about himself and answer in terms of me. (Answers are not given here, and they can sometimes play a part in question order, but you’ll get the process.) This sample is for selling a training program sales people:


  • How many of your salespeople did not meet their sales goals last year?


  • Why? (What was the major cause?)


  • What plans have you made to ensure that they will this year?


  • What type of personal development plan for each salesperson have you put into place?


  • How do you support your sales staff?


  • How much training did you budget last year?


  • How much did you wish you’d have budgeted?


  • When training takes place, how do you measure each individual’s professional development progress?


  • If all your employees exceeded their sales goals this year, what would be the financial impact to the company?


  • May I present a plan to you that would make this happen?


Those 10 questions will give me enough answers to rewrite the prospect’s sales record book (and checkbook) and give you the perfect sales playbook for them!


It’s not just asking questions, it’s asking the right questions. A sale is made or lost based on the questions you ask. If you aren’t making all the sales you want, start by evaluating the specific wording of the questions you’re asking. Your answers are in your questions. Questions unlock sales.