Open and closed sales questions: learn to do and see examples


Open and closed questions in sales are used all the time.

A salesperson needs to discover their customers’ true needs to determine how their company’s solutions can help them. And for that, asking the right questions is essential.

In this post you will learn some techniques for asking open and closed sales questions.

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How to ask open and closed questions in sales, meet customer needs and close deals

Ah! For those who don’t know: closed questions are those that are answered with a simple yes or no. Open questions are those in which the answer demands an opinion or explanation, becoming more revealing!

With that clear, before we talk specifically about techniques for asking open and closed questions in sales, let’s talk about 3 important points that every salesperson should take into account when asking questions to customers.

Then also check out a list of sample open-ended sales questions as well as closed ones.

First: a salesperson must listen more than speak

If you read our blog often, you’ve heard this phrase before. But she is so important that we never get tired of repeating it.

Therefore, understand that your questions are intended to make the prospect or customer talk, open up, identify with you and reveal what they really need to solve in their company.

If you speak more than him, it will be difficult to reach that goal.

Second: closed questions, beware of them!

It is customary to criticize a lot of closed questions in sales. However, they too can and should be done.

The problem with closed questions is that they are quickly answered with a “yes” or “no” without encouraging the customer to continue talking.

But a skilled salesperson can use them to string together other open-ended questions right away. See 2 examples of how to use closed questions in sales:

Breaking the ice with a “silent” customer

If you’ve studied your customer or prospect before talking to them, you may already know if they’re the closed type.

In this case, prepare some closed questions to start the conversation and, when he is more relaxed and accessible, move on to open questions.

Studying your customer before a sales call or negotiation is critical. In fact, most of a sales or negotiation process takes place before you even meet with the customer.

A hook for open-ended questions

You can ask a series of closed-ended questions leading your prospect or customer to a certain point and then start with open-ended questions.

For example:

– Have you been having trouble prospecting customers?

– Yes.

– Do your salespeople have difficulty finding customer information and historical data on your relationship with them?

– Yes.

– Do you use any computerized system to manage your sales?

– Not.

– Why don’t you use this type of system?

The answer to that question, of course, will not boil down to a yes or no and will reveal the barriers that this salesperson must break and the objections that he/she has to overcome in order to help the customer or prospect to implement a CRM system in their business.

Perfect, isn’t it?

Open questions: the most revealing

This should be the focus of your conversation with the customer. But how to choose the questions to ask?

For this, you should start by studying your customer, discovering the possible needs and problems that your company’s solutions can help you solve, and already script these questions.

Then, during the conversation with the customer, you can use their answers to find out what the next question will be that will lead you to a better understanding of what they need to be resolved.

Got a little loose, all that, yet?

Calm! Let’s talk about 4 types of open-ended questions you can’t miss in your conversations with sellers!

Also Read:  30 Key Sales Questions: Understand Your Customer and Close More Deals!

Situation, Problem, Implication, Need for Solution

Spin Selling, again? It is not about using the methodology developed by Neil Rackham as dogma. It’s just very relevant to follow this outline so that you can define a script of questions that work to approach your customer.

Let’s understand the 4 types of sales questions? Understanding this will make it much easier to develop your open and closed sales questions!

  • Situation questions: they help you understand the client’s context and confirm what you have studied and researched about them.
  • Problem questions: aim to find out what the customer needs to solve in their business.
  • Implication questions: The aim is to show the client the consequences of not solving the problem they are facing.
  • Need for solution questions: Now, your questions should direct the client to verbalize what needs to be met for optimal problem solving.

Let’s see some examples of open and closed questions in sales?

20 examples of open and closed sales questions

10 examples of closed questions in sales:

A tip so that your closed sales questions are not a trap that ends the conversation, is always to use words like “so”, “meaning”, “therefore”, before them.

This is a way to make sure that your question is being used to further reason or confirm something you suspect. Just be careful to know how to follow the dialogue if the answer is the opposite of what you thought.

  1. Do you mean that you already have a defined budget for this?
  2. So, if you don’t make up your mind by the end of the year, will you have to postpone the comparison?
  3. That is, does the answer depend not only on you, but on an opinion from the legal department, too?
  4. Do you mean that you have tried solutions similar to ours before?
  5. So your people aren’t familiar with the technology we use?
  6. So is abandoning the current solution too costly for you?
  7. Do you mean that there are other people in the company who are against the solution we are suggesting?
  8. So is there another priority project that you intend to focus on before this one?
  9. So do you need help presenting our solution to the board?
  10. Do you mean that you would need to change something in your current process to adopt our solution?

Note that the answers to these questions will always help you to steer and find out more about the customer. Let’s now look at examples of open-ended sales questions.

10 examples of open-ended sales questions:

  1. What do you need to do to set the budget for this project?
  2. What will happen if you don’t close this purchase by the end of the year?
  3. What do you need for us to help you convince the legal department that our contract is completely trustworthy?
  4. What problems made you give up solutions similar to ours in the past?
  5. What kind of training do you think your people will need to adopt our solution?
  6. What will it take to abandon the current solution and adopt ours?
  7. How can we help you convince other decision makers to approve this purchase?
  8. Why are you prioritizing another project over our solution?
  9. What objections is the board raising to our project?
  10. What modifications does your current process need to adopt our solution?

Notice that the examples of open-ended sales questions we’ve cited are very similar to closed-ended questions? It’s all about knowing how to use the right type of question at the right time.