In B2B sales, exceptional verbal communication skills are absolutely imperative. Why? Because phone calls are where deals move forward. It can take numerous back and forth emails to qualify a lead, but it’s far easier and higher impact to qualify leads (and move deals forward) over the phone.
In my experience, the worst sales reps are the ones who try to talk a mile a minute, launching into a stock product pitch. Conversely, the best reps I’ve spoken to are fantastic listeners. By asking highly targeted, open-ended sales discovery questions, reps can get prospects to reveal a whole lot of information about budget, authority, timeline, needs and a lot more.
To add fuel to your tank, here are 30 of the best sales questions you can ask to learn more about your prospects.
Questions to Identify Needs and Challenges
It’s paramount to establish whether or not a prospect can truly benefit from your solution. Likewise it’s important to know exactly which pain points your solution can solve. Here are some questions to help establish a prospect’s needs and challenges.
- What are some challenges you’re looking to solve?
- Have you tried to solve that problem so far?
- What led you to want to make a change now?
- What part of your job is most frustrating?
Questions to Build Rapport
Sales is all about building great relationships. In addition to asking qualification questions, it’s important to take a genuine interest in your prospects. Here are some questions to help build rapport. Look for any connections you can build. If they mention they’re going fishing over the weekend and you are into fishing it can create a bond.
- How did you get into [current discipline (e.g. marketing, sales operations, IT, etc.)?
- Are you originally from [prospect company’s location]?
- Are you a fan of [sports team native to prospect company’s city]?
- In case I ever make it to [prospect’s city] what’s your favorite restaurant there?
- Got any big plans this weekend?
- How has your business changed in the past year?
Questions About Authority
Part of sales discovery should include discerning who has buying power, as well as the prospective company’s buying process. It’s common, in B2B deals, for there to be multiple stakeholders during deals. So it’s crucial to discover who these stakeholders are and what factors may be important to them.
- In addition to yourself, who else at your company is facing these problems?
- Are there any issues that other stakeholders may be concerned with?
- What’s your purchasing process?
Questions About Budget
I’ve included a few questions to help you establish budget. These questions are going to probably be more relevant when following up with inbound leads that are actively searching for a solution. If you’re prospecting, be prepared to talk to prospects with no budget set aside for your solution. It will therefore be your task to convince the prospect that your solution is worth budgeting for. It’s amazing how budget can magically appear once prospects truly recognize your offering’s value.
- Are you responsible for establishing budget?
- Do you already have a budget allocated?
- What are you ideally looking to invest?
Questions to Generate Demand
If you need help generating demand for your offering, here are some questions to help your prospects imagine the better life that awaits them after implementing your solution.
- Say you had no budgetary restrictions, what kind of changes would you like to make happen?
- What will you do with all your extra time/revenue after making a change?
- What happens if you don’t arrive at a decision?
Questions About Competition
It’s to be expected that a fair amount of deals will be against competitors. It pays to find out a bit about their experience with competitors (whether the solution is currently in place or being simultaneously evaluated). Here are some questions to consider asking during competitive deals.
- Are you looking at any other solution providers at the moment?
- What has your experience been with [competitive vendor]?
- What sort of positive financial impact has your current solution had for your business?
- How do you feel about the way we compare to other solutions you’ve looked at?
For a deal to close, you need to not only be selling the right solution at the right price, it has to be at the right time. Try to establish timeline with these questions:
- In an ideal world, when would you imagine yourself implementing this solution?
- Do you have a current solution in place? If so, when is your current contract up?
- Does your team have the time and resources in place necessary to handle implementation?
Toward the end of a sales conversation (if a prospect seems like a good fit) it’s important to move the deal forward, here are some questions to ask about follow-up.
- What would be the best time for our next meeting?
- What goals would you like to accomplish during our next meeting?
- Would you like to connect me with any other stakeholders at your company?
- When would be a good time to follow up with you about what we discussed?
For an in-depth analysis of many of these questions, be sure to check out our free eBook Socratic Sales: The 21 Best Sales Questions for Mastering Lead Qualification and Accelerating Sales!