How to Ask the Perfect Questions to Improve Sales Communication
We ask hundreds of questions each day, everything from “what time is it?” to “how can I help you today?”
These questions come so naturally to us that we forget how powerful they can be during the sales process. Whether you are building trust or closing a deal, the right question can significantly improve your sales communication.
Here are the five types of questions and when to use each one:
A closed question does not invite conversation. Instead, you are just looking for a “yes” or “no” answer, without the extra details. While closed questions aren’t the best for starting a meaningful conversation, they can set the context and move negotiation forward. For example, you could ask, “Are you happy with your current XYZ software” to establish the fact that your prospect is indeed looking for a new solution. Or, if you are negotiating a contract, you could ask, “We could do X licenses for $200/month. Will that work for you?”
Open questions invite a dialogue. They require a more elaborate, detailed response and naturally move the conversation along. Open questions are especially powerful when trying to build a relationship and when you’re trying to learn more about your prospect. If you want to understand your prospect’s current frustrations and challenges, you could ask, “Tell me about a process that you’d like to improve” or “Why are you interested in our product?”
A probing question is designed to get you a specific answer. If you still need more details after asking an open question, a probing question will help you clarify or uncover new information. And, you don’t even necessarily need to uncover new information with a probing question; it can also help you avoid misunderstandings. An example of a probing question would be, “What exactly do you mean when you say you want to see actionable data from our product?”
We all interpret information differently, and sometimes it’s a good idea to confirm that everyone is on the same page. A confirming question ensures that the prospect or customer understands what you’re saying. Confirming questions are most used after the relationship building phase, once you enter negotiation and pricing conversations. For example, you could ask, “Which pricing model that I mentioned sounds the best to you?”
Summary Confirmation Questions
You should ask questions throughout the entire dialogue, and the end of your conversation is no different. Before wrapping up, use a summary confirmation question to verify that you understand your prospect’s or customer’s needs. These questions also act as a way for you to repeat next steps, so no one drops the ball. An example would be, “Are you saying you’d like to start a 30-day free trial with your team?”
Improve Sales Communication
Everyone is good at asking questions, but few people are skilled at asking the right question at the right time. A perfectly timed question can help you gain control of the conversation, build trust, and move prospects through the sales cycle.
For more tips on improving sales communication, read our post, “The Top 10 Sales Communication Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.”