Asking the right or best questions can be make it or break it during a sale. More times than not, you are given a very short time-frame to determine the needs and wants of the customer. Time is of the essence and wasting it will prove costly to your success. I don’t want you to overthink this or make yourself overwhelmed. Think back to The Dark Knight. I want you to imagine yourself as Batman (first of all so you can say I’m Batman because everyone wants to say that) and your client is the Joker. Think back to where Batman is interrogating the Joker. You have to question your client just like that. You have to slap them around a little bit, beat their head in, and for the love of God if they aren’t saying anything you have to scream SWEAR TO ME at the top of your lungs… alright maybe that’s a little extreme (still one of the best lines from that trilogy). It’s no where near as intense but you goal is to gather knowledge and then find the right product or service. Equipping yourself with an arsenal of questions will help you with this while taking you from a sales novice to a sales assassin. It is all about setting yourself up for success.

In my post, How to Become a Selling Machine, I talk about how you should have a sales process so you always know where you are in the sale. I actually give you a very effective sales process in this post if you do not have one yet. Knowledge and full understanding is everything. The first of six steps is your greeting. I went over how to perfect your greeting here. The second step is a wants/needs analysis. While the greeting is all about starting off on the right foot, the wants/needs analysis will determine how the rest of the interaction will go. Ask one wrong question or not enough questions and you will put yourself at a disadvantage.

What You Need to Understand Before Starting

First, you need to realize that this step of the selling process is absolutely essential. You cannot skip this step… or I should say you can but you won’t be successful or make much money. Not to worry because more times than not people understand the importance it they just don’t want to go out of their way for every customer. If you go out of your way you will close more sales, make more customers happy, and make more money. No brainer right?

Second, understand that you should not practice on the client and that when you’re with a client it’s game time. For real. Never practice on the client. Practice at home, with a loved one, or with a coworker. You want to be prepared before the client is in front of you. Usually, they will be able to tell if you are prepared. Also, the client is game time. Your client should have 100% of your time and focus. Don’t get caught up with other things like taking phone calls, talking with coworkers, writing emails, etc. It is one of the biggest sins of a sales novice. Focus on the customer in front of you and the money in front of you. I always think of a football game with this one. You never have nonsense conversations with a teammate while a play is running. You wait till you are on the sideline or even after the game. Talking with your coworker about business to help you if you are stuck is a completely different story and actually recommended.

Third, listening is the most important part of the want/needs analysis. If you are asking questions and not listening there is no point. If you repeat something that is wrong your client will be able to determine if you are actually listening vs. hearing. There is a huge difference. It is recommended to only talk 40% of the time and for your client to be talking at least 60% of the time. Why you ask? Because it’s not about you and no one wants to hear you talk that much! It’s important to shut up and listen. It’s a painful truth but one you need to understand.

What Are the Best Questions to Ask?

I am going to give you some of my favorite questions to ask and the reason why it is effective. Right after the greeting I recommend saying your intentions. Be upfront with your client on what you are trying to provide for them and the expectations you have. For instance, you could say “(name), just so you are aware my intentions are to provide you an excellent experience finding you your perfect (product/service) and to get this done today for you.” It is super important to plant those seeds of closing the deal early. I mean you’re a sales assassin anyway no point in hiding that! I am focusing more on wants/needs vs. connecting with your client. If you need help connecting with your client check this out. Otherwise here you go:

  • What’s your name? Get the name and use it often. You want to be on first name basis with your clients so they trust you more.
  • How soon will you be needing this? This is a great question to ask because it psychologically starts to create ownership to whatever you are showing your client. Not only that, but you are also getting your order process or lead time (if you even have one) out of the way. This will weed out any potential issues for those clients that need something ASAP.
  • Have you heard about our sale (or promotion)? This is a fantastic time to create some excitement. Sales is a transfer of excitement. You get someone excited enough about what you are selling and it’s a done deal. But bring this up early so people start to look at items as how much they are saving instead of how much they are spending. Plus when your client understands prices they are one step closer to buying.
  • Have you seen anything online that I can help you find or get you information on? Most people are pre-shopping online these days. See if they are on a mission to find something and cut right to the punchline. Save some precious time.
  • Have you ever heard of or seen the new _______ before? This is an awesome question to ask to see if the client knows the new and exciting products or services that you have to offer. You can create excitement with this and get them thinking about new upgraded models.
  • Have you been here before? If yes, did you purchase anything? If yes, how are you liking it? Super important! First, if they haven’t been there tell them about your company, products/services, and you. Second, if they did purchase something you want to know that because they will be more likely to buy from you again since that trust is already built up. Third, if they liked the product or service it should be a slam dunk. Very rarely will someone want not purchase from you again. If they don’t more times than not the issue was you (the salesperson).
  • What made you decide to check us out? I recently learned this question and I love it. You can gauge why they came to your company, what they have heard about it, and reaffirm that they are making a great decision to shop with you… that is unless they are like we heard this place is a shit show and wanted to see it for ourselves! Hopefully, since you are a highly trained sales assassin you won’t let that happen. 😉
  • How long have you had your current ________? It’s important to know how long their last product/service lasted them. If they were unhappy with the lifespan you can show them a higher quality product/service. In the end, this will make them happier. Also, if someone is adding time to the equation you can revert back to this. For example, I’ll call people out when someone owned their mattress for 15 years, have hated it for the past 2, and are wanting to think about it. That’s not the real objection something else is.
  • What did you spend on your current _________? Good time to figure out what they last paid (if they even paid for it) and if they are wanting to be in the same realm or not. I like this question because I use it as a time to talk about inflation. In the furniture business, money 10-15 would get you a lot higher quality set than what that same dollar could get people these days. I use this as a time to talk about inflation and more times than not people will spend more.
  • Do you have a budget for this? Many people like asking it but I hate it. I hate it because most people don’t budget these days (or at least have accurate budgets). I mean that is why America is trillions of dollars in debt right? Somewhere along the line someone said fuck budgets… and then everyone after that followed. But in all seriousness, most people either don’t know or have budgets so they’ll say some weird low balled number, most people will spend more than their budget especially to get what they want, and most salespeople chase budgets. Don’t be a budget chaser. If you create enough value in something people will spend any dollar amount to get it.
  • Can you describe to me your ideal ________? Start to gather info about what exactly your client needs and wants. This is mainly product or service benefits that your client is seeking.
  • What are the most important aspects of a _________ that you would need? Find the aspects of high importance so you can hone in on those.
  • Is there anyone else that is going to be involved with this decision today? Will we need anyone else’s approval or say so to get this going today? Are you the decision maker in this process? These all find who makes the decision, if this person has a strong say so or not, and if we will need anyone’s input. Then follow up with, when will we be able to get them in here to get this going?
  • What types of problems are you experiencing? Find out the problem they are trying to solve. If you solve the problem you get the sale. Solution based selling is the most effective way to sell. The greats are the ones that create problems or get the client to realize problems they never knew they had. If there is an apparent problem and you have the solution your value will increase tenfold. Get an array of problems.
  • What’s the number one problem that you are experiencing today, where if I can solve that issue you would buy right now? Get an answer. This is a hard question to ask because it is very blunt. Now, this will help you realize the most important problem that you need to solve. If you cannot solve at least this issue it’s no sale for you (implied with the Soup Nazi tone)!
  • What’s your least favorite part about ________? Keep finding the issues. Solve the issues and make the client happy. For example, if my client loves their car but hated how weak the AC was, I want to show them a car with some amazing AC. They are going to fall in love with it a lot easier.
  • What’s your most favorite part about ________? Find what they love. You need to make sure that you are not sacrificing what they love most about their current product or service. If you take that away whatever you show them will not have as much glow or excitement.
  • What would you like to change about ______? Keep finding the issues and what they would like to see different. Sometimes you will get people completely satisfied with their last purchase but they want something new and exciting. Listen to that and adapt.
  • Who all is going to be using this? Will anyone be using or involved with this? Figure out who else is going to be using this. If many people will be using it then you can recommend a higher quality/more durable product or service. Not only that but you open the door to add-ons here and recommendations. For example, if a couple with 6 kids is needing an iPad you can recommend one for the adults and a separate one for the kids. They are not going to want the hassle of having to fight over one device (created a problem they didn’t know they would have). Boom.
  • What do you want the purpose of this _______ to be? Figure out if this is something that is going to see a ton of use or not. This will help you determine if the product or service is a right fit for the client’s uses or not.
  • Have you heard about our wonderful financing options? Sell financing like you would a product or service. Why you ask? Because people that finance are willing to spend more. When someone is financing we don’t look at the total amount we look at what monthly payment is affordable. Cell phone companies use this tactic all the time and it works like crazy.
  • Can I show you the upgraded version of this? Can I show you the step up from this? Most people are open to seeing the step up version or upgraded package. This is going to build your ticket. Also, this will do one of two things. First, you’ll show your client a product or service that better fits their needs and they are sold and it’s a higher ticket. Second, they realize that the previous product or service is the right fit and are even more sold on that. It’s really a no brainer. Super effective. Work this into your sales cycle.
  • Can I show you something that I think you are going to love? Can I get your thoughts on something I think you might really enjoy? Two excellent questions to get them thinking about add-ons and different products or services. These will most likely be items to enhance the first item. For example, you can show a pair of Beats headphones or a case for a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod. This will simultaneously make the client happier about the entire purchase because they have the full experience.
  • If you could rank this _______ on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best, what would you put this at? If a 5 out of 5 ask for the sale. If not, What would you change about this to make it better? Figure out what you are missing, what the product/service is lacking, and how you can solve the issue. You have to find the right product or service to get the sale.
  • Can I get this priced up for you so you know what you are looking at for your total? Or even better just assume this and get the pricing worked up and the figures in front of them. You must get numbers to every client. Work up a proposal for everyone. You are one step closer to the close with showing the client the figures. The close cannot happen without the figures.

There are so many specific questions about products and services that I couldn’t go into. There are a million different questions to ask (because each industry is different) to find what product/service would fit your client’s needs/wants. If you need help with specialized questions for your industry you can email me and I will help you out.

These questions will be a helpful guide to help you determine what it is that your clients want and more so need. The most important part is to find that pain, keep poking it, and keep bringing it up. Solve solutions and sell solutions. If you keep harping on that pain you are going to get your client to think that they cannot live another day with their current product or service. Efficiency will come into play and aid you in your quest for the close.

Please comment below what your favorite questions from this post are! Also, are there any questions that you find effective that I may have missed? If so, please share!

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Go now and determine those wants and needs!