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What key questions should you ask your prospect to make a successful sale?

What key questions should you ask your prospect to make a successful sale?



As a salesperson, improving your sales is surely at the heart of your objectives. The quality of your relationship with the prospect plays a crucial role in this success. It’s often said that you buy the man before the product, and after several years of sales I can tell you it’s true. People will always buy a service, even if it’s more expensive, if the salesperson has shown that he or she understands their needs. But how do you build this essential approach? It’s all about asking the right questions.

These questions are powerful levers that help you :

  • Establish a bond of trust.
  • Understand your customer’s challenges, goals and needs.
  • Qualify potential customers’ interest and assess their readiness to buy.
  • Align the benefits of your proposal with expectations.
  • Plan future actions to close the sale successfully.

So what questions should you ask to find out more about your target’s motivations? How can they be formulated to be both engaging and effective?

This guide provides you with the keys to asking the right questions at the right time to improve your sales figures. We’ll explore the types of questions to ask at each phase of the sale, enriched with practical examples. You’ll discover how questions can be a simple and effective tool for boosting your sales results.

Keys to effective preparation for a meeting with a prospect

The key to a successful meeting lies in meticulous preparation. This preparation gives you confidence, shows your professionalism and increases your efficiency. It enables you to ask the right questions and tailor your approach to your interviewee’s specific needs. The better prepared you are, the less time you’ll take from your prospect. Everyone loves it when appointments are quick and efficient.

So how do you go about preparing for a sales meeting? Follow these two essential steps.

Understand your prospect’s background

Start by finding out about your target audience and their company. It’s crucial to understand its context: its challenges, objectives, issues, competitors, values, and more.

Exploit various sources of information such as the company website, social networks, press articles, customer reviews, or contact members of the company directly for more detailed information. The aim is to develop an in-depth understanding of your target’s position, needs and potential receptiveness to your proposal. Of course, it’s important to remain reasonable: preparation shouldn’t be an excuse for contacting few prospects. You have to be able to quickly analyze what’s interesting. Make a recurring TODO for yourself, like a recipe that you’ll refine over time and that you need to make for every prospect. Once you’ve finished this recipe, send it to us, we’ll surely be able to automate it 😉

This will help you refine your questions and personalize your sales pitch.

Define your contact’s objective

The second step is to determine exactly what you want to achieve in your sales meeting. For example, this could be :

  • Schedule an appointment to present your proposal.
  • Ask for information to prepare your meeting with the decision-maker, very useful for ABM strategies.
  • Obtain preliminary agreement on a commercial proposal.
  • Finalize the signing of a contract.

Your objective should follow the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound, while being aligned with your level of progress in the sales cycle. If this is your first contact, it’s vital to build a relationship of trust and understand your needs before proposing your solution.

The objective of your meeting must fit in logically with your target’s current situation and your overall sales strategy.

Opening questions for starting a business relationship

Now that you’ve finished preparing for your sales meeting, it’s time to meet your prospect. But how do you start a conversation effectively? How do you break the ice and establish a climate of trust right from the start?

The key is to use opening questions. These questions are open-ended in nature, and can’t be answered with a simple yes/no. On the contrary, they encourage your future customer to share his thoughts in detail. They offer many advantages:

  • They tell you about the person, exploring their background, needs and motivations.
  • They demonstrate your interest and active listening, reinforcing your relationship with the person.
  • They focus the conversation on the points that interest you, and ease the transition to more specific questions.

To help you, here are two examples of how to use opening questions to build a bond with your target audience.

  1. Can you give me an update on your current situation?

The aim of this question is to understand your prospect’s current context, and identify any problems or opportunities that need to be explored. It also helps you validate the veracity and freshness of the data collected during your preparation.

Depending on the prospect’s sector of activity, you can personalize this question by asking, for example:

  • How is your company doing these days?
  • What major challenges does your profession bring?
  • What results are you aiming to achieve this year?
  • What are your main concerns this year?

This questioning helps to identify your target’s needs, expectations and deep-seated motivations. It’s designed to create a sense of urgency and stimulate interest in your proposed solutions.

The question can be adapted according to the problems you can solve or the benefits you can offer. You might ask:

  • What’s holding you back from achieving results?
  • What improvements are you looking for in your current situation?
  • What could save you time, money or improve the quality of your operations?

Questions to identify the prospect's needs

Establishing a preliminary connection with your prospect through opening questions naturally leads to the next, crucial phase: discerning their precise needs. These needs can take the form of challenges, frustrations, unfulfilled desires, or results to be achieved.

This process is essential to understand in depth why your potential customer is interested in your proposal. By correctly identifying the prospect’s needs, you can better position yourself to :

  • Assess the fit between your proposal and expectations, and determine whether you can provide real added value.
  • Tailor your sales pitch to specific needs, illustrating how your proposal can effectively meet them.
  • Create a sense of urgency and necessity that will encourage you to take the plunge.

To do this, it’s essential to ask targeted questions that will help you explore the prospect’s issues in depth, understanding their origins, implications and solution criteria. Let’s take a look at three types of questions that make it easier to identify a prospect’s needs.

  1. What specific problem are you trying to solve?

This essential question aims to isolate the major problem that motivates the search for a solution. The aim is to grasp the exact nature of what is blocking, lacking or in need of improvement in your current situation.

Depending on your target’s field of activity, you can personalize your question. For example:

  • What’s the main difficulty you encounter when selling?
  • What’s holding back your sales growth?
  • What are your top priorities for improving your website?

  1. What have you done so far to address this problem?

The purpose of this question is to find out what solutions the prospect has already considered or implemented, and to assess their effectiveness. It allows us to understand whether the person has already tested a competing proposal, tried to solve the problem on his or her own, or postponed or abandoned the search for a solution.

Depending on your proposal, the competition and the market, you could ask :

  • Have you ever used a sales management tool? Which one? What was your experience?
  • Have you hired a consultant or agency to boost your sales? How did the collaboration go and what were the results?
  • Have you ever tried to create or optimize your website yourself? What tools did you use, and what were the main obstacles?

  1. How does this problem affect your daily activity?

This question assesses the concrete impact of the problem on the prospect’s business or daily life, whether in financial, organizational, emotional or other terms.

Depending on the potential impact of your proposal and the prospect’s sector of activity, you could ask them questions such as :

  • What impact does your sales organization problem have on your profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, etc.?
  • What opportunities are you missing out on because of your difficulty in increasing sales? Do you have an estimated loss of earnings?
  • What frustrations are you experiencing as a result of problems with your website? How does this affect your brand image, visibility, credibility, etc.?

How to qualify a business opportunity

Qualifying a sales opportunity starts with identifying the prospect’s needs. The aim is to determine whether the opportunity is real, viable and profitable. Qualifying a person means checking their financial capacity, decision-making authority and interest in acquiring your product.

The advantages are many:

  • Avoid spending time and resources on prospects who aren’t ready to buy, who don’t have the necessary budget, or who don’t have decision-making power.
  • Prioritize the most promising prospects in terms of urgency, profitability and interest, improving your conversion rate.
  • Identify and prepare answers to potential objections that could hinder the sale.

To effectively qualify a prospect, it’s best to ask closed questions, allowing for clear, concise answers. These questions will help you :

  • Confirm or invalidate hypotheses, data or qualification criteria.
  • Assess the prospect’s level of interest, commitment and maturity.
  • Close the sale or progress to the next phase of the sales cycle.

Here we explore three key questions inspired by the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Temporality) qualification model for evaluating an opportunity.

  1. What impact will solving this problem have on your company?

This questioning helps you identify the added value of your proposal for the prospect, thus justifying the cost of your proposal. You’ll discover the financial, operational, strategic and other benefits that can be gained by solving your problem. The question can be adjusted according to the specific benefit your service provides, the prospect’s industry, market, etc.

Examples of questions included :

  • What would you gain in terms of productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, etc., by solving your sales problem?
  • What impact would increasing your sales have on growth, competitiveness, loyalty, etc.?
  • How would improving your brand image, visibility, credibility, etc., be perceived by optimizing your website?

  1. What’s your budget?

This question determines whether the person’s budget matches your offer. In this way, you can assess whether the person has anticipated a budget for the proposal they are looking for. The context of your product or service, the competition and the market all influence the formulation of this question.

You might ask, for example:

  • What budget is allocated to investing in a sales organization tool?
  • How much are you willing to spend to boost your sales?
  • What budget can you allocate to creating or modifying your website?

  1. Have you considered other solutions? If so, which ones?

This question reveals whether the prospect has explored other options and assesses his knowledge of the market. It allows you to stand out from the competition. The wording of this question depends on the type of proposal you offer, the competition and the market.

Possible questions include:

  • Have you looked at other sales management software offers? Which ones caught your eye?
  • Have you consulted other consultants or agencies to increase your sales? What were the advantages and disadvantages?
  • Have you tried any other tools or platforms for creating or updating your website? What benefits or limitations did they present?

Questions for defining the prospect's expectations

The first step after qualifying a sales opportunity is to precisely identify your prospect’s expectations. These can include the desired results, the benefits sought, and the specific criteria and conditions the person would like to see met with your product. These expectations are fundamental, as they guide the choice towards your proposal rather than another.

Understanding expectations is crucial for several reasons:

  • It allows you to check whether your proposal meets the needs and whether you can provide real added value.
  • This gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your sales proposal to perfectly match the prospect’s expectations, by illustrating how your proposal can meet their needs and objectives.
  • Finally, it helps build a sense of satisfaction and loyalty in the prospect, fostering lasting contact.

To clearly identify the prospect’s expectations, we recommend asking open-ended questions. These questions are essential to understand what your target is really looking for, what’s important to them, and what might convince or reassure them. Here are two examples of relevant questions to ask.

  1. What is the ideal result you expect from this solution?

This crucial question helps you understand what your target audience really wants from your proposal, and how they plan to evaluate its success. It’s all about understanding the ultimate benefit the person hopes to achieve. This question can be adapted according to the type of solution you’re proposing, the industry concerned, the target market, and so on.

Here are some possible variations of this question:

  • What specific results do you expect from this sales management software? How do you plan to assess its effectiveness?
  • What would be your ideal outcome from our consultancy service? How do you plan to measure its impact?
  • What results do you expect from your new website? How will you determine its success?

  1. What are the decisive criteria for choosing a supplier / service provider?

This interrogation uncovers the elements that the prospect considers essential when comparing and selecting a supplier or service provider. The aim is to identify the choice criteria, the key success factors and the differentiators considered crucial by the individual. You can adjust this question according to the criteria you can highlight, your competitors, the market, and so on.

Examples of variations on this question:

  • What criteria do you consider decisive when choosing a sales management tool? What do you think makes the difference?
  • What factors do you consider essential when choosing a consultant or agency? What generates your confidence?
  • On what criteria do you base your choice of tool or platform for your website? What do you find most appealing?

Questions to answer for the next phases

Once the prospect’s expectations have been defined, it’s crucial to agree on the next phases of the sales process. They represent the actions, commitments or deadlines you commit to in order to move towards closing the sale.

This alignment is essential to ensure that the person is truly committed, motivated and ready to move forward with the project. Here’s why this alignment is crucial:

  • It enables you to maintain contact with the prospect, preventing disinterest or the possibility of them turning to a competitor.
  • It helps speed up the sales cycle by reducing the time between initial contact and contract signature.
  • It helps secure the sale by avoiding last-minute surprises that could jeopardize the end of the deal.

For effective alignment, we recommend using closed questions to validate or discuss actions, commitments or deadlines with the prospect. It’s also important to ensure your target audience’s agreement and clear understanding of these phases, to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion.

Below, discover three examples of questions to align you with the next phases, inspired by the SMART model (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound):

  1. What is your decision-making schedule?

This question aims to understand when and how the target plans to finalize his decision. The aim is to identify the timeframe and the decision-making process, so as to better adapt to them.

You can customize this question according to the specificities of the project, such as :

  • What’s your timetable for selecting a sales management tool? What phases are you planning?
  • When do you intend to validate the sales proposal I’ve presented to you? Who will be consulted?
  • What is your timetable for starting your website creation or redesign project? What constraints must be observed?

  1. Who else needs to be involved in the final decision?

This question identifies the other decision-makers, influencers or end-users involved in the final decision. Understanding the role, power and expectations of each stakeholder is vital to adjusting your sales pitch.

Adapt this question according to the decision context, as follows:

  • Who else needs to be involved in the choice of sales management software? How involved and influential are they?
  • Who is involved in approving the sales proposal? What are their criteria and potential objections?
  • Who are the key players in launching a website project? What are their needs and preferences?

  1. Are there any potential obstacles to implementing the proposal?

This will reveal any doubts, fears or resistance the prospect may have about the proposal. Identifying possible risks or obstacles is crucial to addressing them and reassuring the prospect.

Depending on the type of proposal, consider asking :

  • Are there any obstacles to integrating sales organization software? What are the technical and organizational prerequisites?
  • What are the potential obstacles to acceptance of the sales proposal? What influence do legal and financial aspects have?
  • What are the challenges of a successful website project? How do specific deadlines and constraints affect the project?

List of questions to ask: summary

To conclude this article, we offer you a summary of the key questions to ask your prospect at different points in the sales process. These questions are designed to be flexible and adapt to your specific situation, your proposal, and your prospect’s context. They aim to establish a solid basis for developing your sales pitch and encouraging action.

Here are the recommended questions:

Stage in the sales process Objective Questions to ask
Preparation Understand the context of the prospect and his company How is your business doing at the moment? What are the major challenges you face in your sector? What results would you like to achieve this year?
Preparation Clarify expectations for the sales meeting What are your hopes for this meeting? What’s your next step? What result would you like to achieve?
Open Establishing a relationship. Can you describe your current situation? What are your main concerns? What would improve your current satisfaction?
Needs identification Identify the problem, its causes, consequences and possible solutions. What specific problem would you like to solve? What have you done so far to resolve it? How does this problem affect your business or daily life?
Qualifying the opportunity Confirm whether the person has the budget, authority and willingness to buy. What impact would solving this problem have on your business? What budget have you earmarked for this acquisition? Have you considered other solutions? If so, which ones?
Defining expectations Identify expected results, benefits, selection criteria or desired conditions. What is the perfect result you expect from this solution? What are the key criteria for choosing a supplier? Are there any concerns or hesitations on your part?
Align with next phases Determine or negotiate actions, commitments or deadlines. What’s your decision-making schedule? Who else needs to be involved in the decision? Are there any obstacles to implementing the proposed solution?

By asking these questions, you’ll be able to establish a relationship of trust with your prospect, identify his or her needs, check the suitability of your proposal, and plan future actions. You’ll maximize your chances of closing the sale and satisfying your customer. We hope you find this information useful, and that you will use it in your next business discussions.

We look forward to hearing from you. We look forward to hearing from you.

You now have the essential tools to effectively question your target audience and persuade them to opt for your product. This overview has guided you in preparing for your sales meeting, understanding his needs, assessing the opportunity, clarifying his expectations, and planning the next phases.

What’s more, you can choose from a series of questions relevant to each phase of the sales cycle, customized to your specific situation.

It’s time to take action by implementing these strategies and applying these questions to your future business discussions. You’ll see an improvement in your conversion rate, sales growth and increased customer satisfaction.


What questions should I ask to sell?

The key to effective selling lies in the ability to ask pertinent questions that reveal the customer’s needs, motivations, results, choice criteria and obstacles. Here are a few strategic questions to include in your sales approach:

  • What are your short- and long-term goals?
  • What challenges or problems are you currently facing?
  • What impact do these problems have on your business or personal situation?
  • Have you already considered or tried any solutions? Which ones?
  • Why are you looking for a proposal similar to ours?
  • What improvements or results do you expect from our proposal?
  • What criteria do you use to choose a product like ours?
  • What is your budget and what are your time constraints for this project or purchase?
  • Who else is involved in the purchasing decision for this project?
  • What questions or hesitations do you have about our proposal?

What are the 6 types of questions?

There are 6 essential types of question to stimulate critical thinking and effective communication: informative, descriptive, reflective, metacognitive, affective and conceptual. These questions are designed to encourage analysis, practical understanding, dialogue and creativity.

What questions should you ask your customers?

To get to know your customers better, understand their needs and build a relationship of trust with a view to making a sale, it’s essential to ask targeted questions. Depending on the context, the service offered and the stage in the sales cycle, here are some universal questions to consider:

  • What research leads you to this type of proposal?
  • What are your current goals and challenges?
  • How do you rate the success of these initiatives?
  • What criteria do you prioritize when choosing a product?
  • What do you expect from customer service?
  • Do you have a specific budget and what is your timeframe for this project?
  • Who else is involved in the decision-making process?
  • What other solutions are you considering?
  • What strengths and weaknesses do you see in these options?
  • What’s holding you back from taking action?

What are the 7 phases of sales?

Successful selling is based on a clearly defined process consisting of seven essential steps:

  • Sales preparation: Find out about the target and its environment to define the right sales strategy.
  • Making contact: Establish initial contact based on trust and interest.
  • Researching customer needs: Use different types of questions to discover the customer’s specific aspirations.
  • Sales pitch: Present the advantages of your proposal in direct response to the needs identified.
  • Handling objections: Respond to customers’ hesitations to reinforce their commitment to the offer.
  • Commercial negotiation: Discuss the terms of sale to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
  • Close the sale: Conclude the sale by signing a contract, confirming the order and thanking the customer.
Picture of Tristan Bance
Tristan Bance

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