Are you asking questions in your sales meetings? Probably. But are you asking the right questions? That’s another matter entirely. The right questions build value and guide you along the path to ultimately closing bigger sales.

Read on to discover 10 simple, value-building questions that you should be asking every single prospect:

1. Why?

It’s just three little letters, but this is the most powerful word in sales. Your goal in any selling situation is to dig deeper and truly understand what your prospect thinks. In order to do that, you have to resist the urge to respond right away whenever a customer says something. Instead, simply ask, “Why?” and invite the prospect to share more about what’s really going on.

To learn more, check out the video below:

2. Can you tell me more?

Whenever a prospect first mentions a problem, don’t jump at the opportunity to pitch your solution. Instead, encourage the prospect to share more. The simple question “Can you tell me more?” will reveal more information—information that often proves to be extremely valuable—that will help you better understand the scope and cause of your prospect’s biggest challenges.

3. Why do you ask that?

Let’s say a prospect asks you, “Will you be on site for the installation?” Don’t automatically assume your prospect wants you to say yes. The prospect may want you on site—or not. The wrong answer could ultimately cost you a massive sale. Use this question to understand true motives and you can close sales you would otherwise have lost.

4. Can you explain what you mean by that?

If you want to really understand what’s going on in the prospect’s head, then you have to stop assuming you already know. When you tell prospects to explain what they mean, you’re inviting them to open up more and clarify their reasoning and concerns. This sets you up to offer a solution that truly meets them where they are.

5. Really?

If you’re talking more than 15% of the time in a selling situation, you’re talking too much. Little prompts like, “Really?” are often all it takes to keep prospects talking. The more they’re talking, the more they’re sharing information that can help you offer a valuable solution and close more profitable sales.

6. What does that challenge cost your organization?

Once your prospect has revealed and explained a key challenge they’re facing, it’s time to go even deeper. In a genuine, caring tone, try asking, “What does that challenge cost your organization?” The answer will immediately create value for your solution and provide much-needed context for the buying decision.

7. How does that affect you personally?

The cost to an organization as a whole is one thing—but there’s nothing more powerful than having your prospects articulate how a challenge has a direct negative impact on their life and work. By inviting them to share their personal struggles, you’ll increase their commitment to finding and investing in the solution.

8. What would you be willing to invest in a solution to this challenge?

This is a closing question you must ask if you want to close more sales. You’ve built context around the buying decision and established value for the solution—now it’s time to get a budget. By letting prospects set the bar before you ever present a proposal, you’ll be in a powerful position to close the sale. If their budget is high, you can present a premium solution for a bigger sale. If their budget is low, you can deal with it immediately before taking the time to draw up a proposal. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking this question.

9. What does your decision-making process look like?

We’ve all been in those painful situations where we’re ready to close a sale—only to find out that three more people we’ve never met have to sign off on the decision. The good news is that this runaround is completely avoidable. You should always clarify the decision-making process long before you present your offering. This provides valuable insight into where you actually stand in the sales cycle and allows you to plan appropriately as you move forward.

10. When all else fails, just shrug.

This move is gutsy, but it works. If you’re a sales ninja and have the guts to stay silent during a conversational pause, you can blow the doors off any selling situation. Your prospect will instinctively want to fill the space, and when they do, you can learn so much more than you would’ve if you’d jumped in and taken over. Think of this as “the silent question” you should ask every prospect.

Have you ever tried asking one of these value-building questions? What was the result? Share your experiences in the comments below. Check out this free Special Report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask for even more powerful sales advice.


Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.