The Open Ended Question

The open ended question is a powerful element in your sales call plan.

Learning the power and techniques of open ended questions is part of all great sales training.

The answers you get when you ask a question that is open ended lets you know what is going on in your client's world and how they feel about it.

Without asking questions that are open ended it will be difficult to create an account strategy. Ask them early.

It will eliminate any surprises when you try to close.

Asking the Question - Open Ended

There are a few categories to consider when developing your questions.

  • One of you key objectives when you meet with a client is to gather information. Plan beforehand the information you need and formulate your questions. Asking the right questions, whether open ended or close ended, is an important skill for all sales people to use. Write your own, brainstorm with your team or use a few of these questions as a starting point.
  • - How did you determine your need?

    - What do you hope you will be able to achieve with this product and/or service

    - How do you see this happening

    - If you don't solve (say the problem) what difficulties will you face in the future

    - What is driving this goal/objective/opportunity forward?

  • To qualify a buyer is an important part of the sales process. Qualifying a buyer up front saves time and potential disappointment later on.
  • - What are your next action steps

    - Who in the company will gain the most from this solution/project/implementation?

    - What could make this no longer a priority?

    - What is the most important priority to you at this time?

    - How does this fit in with the company's strategic goals?

    - How has this been budgeted?

    - What has this been budgeted for and who's budget?

  • It helps if you can understand their business decision making process and their Business Buying Process as early on as you can. Asking questions, both open ended and closed ended will help. Based on the answers you can develop a plan.
  • - What do you see as the next action steps for others?

    - What is your time line for moving forward/implementing this product, etc.?

    - What are the top 3 criteria that the vendor will be evaluated on?

  • Competition - Learn as much as you can about your competition.
  • - Who is your preferred vendor and why?

    - With whom have you had success with in the past?

    - What lack of capability would hurt or exclude a vendor?

  • What does the prospect or client know about your company? Even if they are a current client it helps to ask these questions.
  • - What do you know about our company?

    - When would a presentation of our product and/or capabilities be appropriate and who would you invite?

Asking an open-ended question is one of your best tools.

They will help you gather information, qualify potential sales opportunities, learn about the client's business decision making process and find out who your competition is.

Tips: Asking an Open Ended Question

- Your questions should sound natural and have a flow

- Do not interrupt

- Do not lead the client

- If you would like them to provide additional information on their answer ask things such as "how so?" or "can you tell me a little more about ...."

- Practice your active listening skills.

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Open Ended Question to Career Sales Training page

A Question that is Open Ended to Sales Training for Business