The Master Marketer BLOG

The Value of Questions When Selling

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt on Mon, Jul 02, 2012 @ 5 PM

In many ways, the art of sales is not about talking a customer into making a purchase. It's in leading the customer through a process that defines their needs, resulting in a realization that your product or service is, or is not, the solution to their problem.

It's a subtle distinction, but it's one that separates great sales-people from mediocre ones. The key to leveraging this distinction is in making good use of questions in your sales pitches. Using questions, rather than speeches, to sell your products gets around customers' objections and helps them find the product that they truly need.

The Value of Questions in Sales

Questions are such a powerful negotiating tool because they achieve multiple goals at once. They are truly one of the most useful strategies you can employ. Here are a few of their benefits:
Sold sign

Get to the Heart of Your Customer's Needs

Most people dread the high-pressure pitch, delivered by a salesman working on commission. He wants to sell them the priciest item in the store, whether they need it or not. Unfortunately, he also probably drives away as much business as he brings in through these tactics.

Asking questions of your customers allows you to pinpoint what they actually need, and steer them towards products they are more likely to want to by. Further, by having them analyze and consider their needs, it leads them to quickly see the value of the purchase.

Build Rapport and Overcome Distrust

Most customers go into a retail situation with a very adversarial attitude. This is probably warranted. They expect a salesperson to only care about a commission, and not them personally.

Asking questions sincerely about their needs helps diffuse this. The more you can make them believe that you honestly want to match them with the best product for their needs, the more likely they are to trust your recommendations. That rapport is one of the most valuable things you can create with a potential customer.

Focus On the Big Picture

If you sell anything, you know that customers tend to get hung up on small details. Haggling over the price, for example, or whether something comes in a certain color. Sales meetings can become nit-picking nightmares if you let the customer focus on these details, quickly becoming unproductive.

Asking "big picture" questions focused on the customer's wants and needs gets around this. It allows you to keep the conversation locked into what the product can do for them, and what problems in their life it can solve. As long as you can keep them thinking about this aspect, they are far less likely to end up quibbling over minor issues.

By focusing on the outcome, rather than minutia, you can vastly increase the effectiveness of your selling technique.

Open-Ended vs Close-Ended Questions

These two questioning techniques are both highly useful when selling to people. For those not familiar with the terminology, an open-ended question is one where the respondent is left to find the answer for themselves. ("What are you looking for today?") A close-ended question restricts the answers available. ("Do you want that in blue or yellow?")

You should seek to use a mix of these questions, leading off with open-ended questions, and then using close-ended questions to refine their answer or get details. Don't use one type exclusively; a mixture keeps the conversation flowing and helps prevent them from feeling like you're controlling the dialogue. (Even if you are.)


Questions are a vital sales tool that you should make full use of. They build rapport, focus the customer on their needs, and head off unproductive haggling over minor details.

Call DeepSky Marketing to find out how you can create profitable marketing strategies for your company. DeepSky Marketing is a company that provides businesses with profitable marketing systems and verifiable return on investment (ROI). To schedule a brief no-cost consultation call 707 823-3888.

Posted by Jeffrey Schmidt

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