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Using Open Ended Sales Questions to Increase Sales

Being able to effectively collect information from prospects is one of the keys for how to increase company sales and asking open ended sales questions is the best way to extract more information.

Looking at Closed Ended Questions First

Before we talk about how to incorporate good open ended questions, let’s look at closed ended questions. Closed ended questions are questions that can be answered with one word and sometimes with a simply yes, no, good, great, etc.

There are two challenges with closed ended questions. Not only do they not provide us with as much information, but they also create an environment where we are doing all of the talking. If we are doing all of the talking, the prospect is not investing in the conversation and may be less likely to become engaged in what we are talking about.

Here are some examples of common closed ended questions that we can easily fall into asking if we are not paying attention:

  • Are you happy with your current provider?
  • Are you looking to make a change?
  • Are you having any challenges?


Shifting to Open Ended Questions

Open ended sales questions are questions that cannot be answered with just one word. We can take the three examples above and easily shift them toward being open ended questions:

  • How do you feel about the service you are getting from your current provider?
  • What is your status in terms of looking to make a change?
  • What are some challenges that you are experiencing?

These might not be the perfect questions in terms of wording, but what it is important to note is that they cannot be answered with a one word answer. When you use questions like this when meeting with prospects, the prospect will be forced to talk to answer each question. Of course, you still might not get the answer that you are looking for by simply shifting to open ended sales questions, but you can greatly improve all of your interactions with prospects by making this small change.

By getting the prospect to talk more after your questions, you will be able to uncover much more information. This will not only help you to with qualifying a prospect better, but it will also help you to find pain which can help you to generate more leads.

The other thing that this will do is get the prospect talking for a greater portion of the conversations that you have. This will open the prospect up more and get them more invested and engaged in the conversations.  And if you use this when cold calling, this change alone could lead to greater success as you can go from conversations that just have you doing all of the talking to one that is closer to half and half.

The easiest way to shift to using more open ended sales questions is to ask more “what” and “how” questions. Questions that start out in this way typically lead to answers that cannot be answered with one word.


Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching helping sales pros to incorpate more open ended sales questions.


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This article was published on Thursday 14 June, 2012.
Back to main topic: Qualifying Prospects
Qualifying Business to Ensure Sales Effectiveness
Three Questions to Ask When Qualifying Sales
Questions to Ask When Qualifying Sales
Qualifying Sales with Light Questions First
Five Powerful Open Sales Questions
Effectively Qualifying a Prospect
Sales Call Questions that Can Generate Leads
Powerful Questions for Sales People (Part I)
Powerful Questions for Sales People (Part II)
How to Qualify a Prospect

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