6 open-ended questions for sales-starting conversations

As sales techniques go, asking open-ended questions isn't just a good idea. It's mandatory.

Open-ended questions will get your prospect talking about 

  • What they really want to buy
  • How they want to buy
  • And their motivations for buying

1. Ask, "What do you look for in...?"

If you're a realtor, simply asking a prospect what they look for in a house will get you some good information to match them with the right property. But also asking them what they look for in a realtor will give you key details on how to keep them happy, and generate referrals.

2. Ask, "What have you found in the past that...?"

The past experience of your customer is crucial because it's the yardstick they'll use to measure your success. If you exceed their expectations (expectations that were set by what they have found in the past) you've got a referral partner for life.

3. Ask, "How do you propose we handle...?"

What are their ideas? Do they have particular ways of doing things? You may have a system all laid out, but involving your customer in the planning process helps them take ownership over your transaction.

4. Ask, "What would you change about...?"

This works well when you're trying to lure a customer away from the competition. Identifying where their dissatisfaction lies and providing stellar results in that particular area will make you their hero.

5. Ask, "Are there any other factors that...?"

Make sure you've got everything covered. This catch-all question can uncover the most left-field, unexpected concerns that your customer has, which they might otherwise never tell you about.

6. Ask, "How are you currently...?"

What is their current solution?

And more importantly, why is that?

The answers to these open-ended questions can foster trust in you as their advisor, because you're showing sincerity when you ask about their issues, their problems, and their concerns.