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50+ sales questions to turn B2B prospects into buyers

Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:14 m

The sales process is all about dialogue. The best salespeople do not push their product; they know the key to happy customers is helping people solve their problems. 

Like Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Now, to know what people really want, you must ask many questions, dig deep, and be a good psychologist. 

Since 2017, our sales executives have conducted over 10,000 sales calls and have driven over 1,000 clients to Belkins. Considering that the company has grown 50 times over this period, we probably were asking the right sales questions.

Let’s find out what they were and assemble a list of the best B2B sales questions to ask to convert your leads into buyers.

How to ask the right B2B sales questions

In B2B sales, approaching questions requires a strategic approach. Start by thoroughly researching the client and their industry. It will help you sound like you know what you are discussing and get you on the same page with the client. 

Before you start a call, plan your talk: 

  1. Set clear objectives — what do you want to get from this talk? 
  2. Prepare a mix of open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses. 
  3. Memorize your questions and ask them naturally instead of reading from a list. 

Once you are on the call: 

  • Set the tone and avoid being robotic or cold. Chat with your client like you would with a friendly acquaintance over coffee. Be relaxed, discreet, and respectful, and demonstrate genuine interest in the client’s needs. 

"Tonality is huge. Asking questions should be in an uncertain tone to disarm the prospect, while providing feedback should be in a confident tone to assert leadership and trust."

Rosie Partmann, Head of Sales at Belkins

  • Respect customer boundaries. If they are hesitant to answer, try rephrasing the question or approaching it differently. 
  • Aim to deeply understand the client’s business and listen more than talk. Top B2B salespeople know it’s about building strong relationships rather than selling on the spot. 

Being patient and attentive helps you customize the pitch on the go based on the client’s answers about their specific situation.

Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions for sales

Asking open-ended questions in sales makes pitching so much easier. One, they do not limit your client’s replies to yes and no. And two, they engage your customers and encourage data-rich answers. Asking the right questions should give you the stepping stones to go from demand discovery to deal closure. 

Basic open-ended sales questions examples: 

  • “Tell me about …”
  • “What led you to take this call today?”

Avoid asking basic questions just as they are. Clients might feel like you’re just fishing for leverage and brush you off. The trick is making the best open-ended sales questions the base of your conversation while adding enough details and empathy to take them to the next level: 

  • “You mentioned [area of business]. Can you tell me a little bit about your workflow in this area? What does your current setup look like?”
  • “I know how busy it can be in [area of business], so what led you to make time in your busy schedule for this meeting?”

Use these softeners before presenting your sales questions to avoid sounding abrasive: 

  • “Just out of curiosity …”
  • “Mind if I ask …”
  • “Can I ask a tough question?”
  • “Can I ask a bit of a direct question here?”
  • “Out of interest …”

Closed questions, typically answerable with yes, no, or maybe, are more specific. They logically come later in a sales conversation, following the discovery of a customer’s needs. They can be paired with open questions for deeper insights, but their main goal is to quickly provide precise information. For example: 

  • “Are you satisfied with your current supplier?”
  • “Is this within your price range?”

📌 Belkins tip: Adding “to what extent” at the beginning of nearly all closed-ended questions makes them open-ended.

Closed-ended questions have their value too. Think of it this way: If you want a specific answer at some point, why use an open-ended question? Yet, use them thoughtfully and scarcely.

"Asking questions that require a one-word answer isn’t the worst, but you have to have a follow-up question that keeps the conversation alive or else it’ll feel very transactional and disjointed instead of consultative. A discovery call should be a beautiful waltz where sometimes I lead and sometimes my prospect leads. It should feel organic and almost be fun. The time should fly by, and that only happens when people are highly engaged in it."

Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins

With experience, top sellers master blending closed- and open-ended questions to make sales talks feel friendly when needed and business-focused when required.

How to build up to sales questions by stage

The best sales questions to ask customers depend on the timing. Sellers often refer to sales calls as “peeling an onion.” Every question peels off a layer, opening the way to the middle — the prospect’s deepest concerns that you need to solve. 

Naturally, you will need to use different questions in this process as you move from the outermost layer to the middle. 

First, you want to ask qualifying questions.

These determine if your prospect is likely to purchase from you. You don’t want to waste your time if the lead isn’t qualified.

  • “How do you empower your sales team with digital sales tools?” 

Second, you shift to rapport-building questions

These will lead to greater engagement and interest. Some of these can be closed-ended questions, and others open-ended.

  • “Are you considering changes or additions to your toolbox to accommodate new sales channels?”
  • “How are you assessing the effectiveness of your tools now?”

Third, peek under the hood with business-oriented discovery questions.

Going beyond a surface-level marketing quiz shows the customer that you really care about solving their specific problems and helping them reach their goals.

  • “What is the kind of ideal customer you are looking to attract? What are the goals and the KPIs that will matter for your company most in the next year?”  

Fourth, it is time to address possible concerns with objection-based questions

Be creative here, and never take no for an answer. The least you can get from an objection is as much helpful information as possible.

  • “I see that you are happy with our competitor. May I just ask what components of the service or relationship are you most satisfied with? I’d love to see how we may compare.”

Fifth, direct prospects to the finale with the questions that help close the deal

There is no need to be shy about it as it is simply part of the chat. If you’ve presented your case and your prospect is excited about what they can get, now is the time to decide when and where. 

  • “Have you seen enough to make a decision? Do you see any reason you wouldn’t like to move forward? Great! The logical next step is [next step]. What time slot would work best for you?”

Each of these stages is important. Early stages help you to establish yourself as a likable and knowledgeable professional; the later ones show your commitment to addressing the core issues of a prospect’s business. 

"Seller has to have discernment on when it’s time to pitch because that time varies for every prospect. You might kill some calls with death by discovery because you just won’t stop asking questions, while others you might start pitching too soon, and your prospect won’t understand the true value in your services because they’re still sitting on a bunch of stuff that they’d like to address.

This is truly an art because I don’t like structuring the call so formally and saying, “OK, is now a good time to share our offering?” Because that reminds them that I’m a seller, and I want them to view me as a friend. So you just have to “feel” it in a way."

Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins

Being armed with powerful sales questions, rather than just gathering basic information for a standard proposal, will capture the interest of serious clients. It showcases deep, strategy-focused engagement.

Best sales questions to ask at every sales stage

Below, we’ve gathered some of the power questions our Belkins reps use to win the most challenging prospects and get appointments for our clients.

Questions to qualify a lead

Unless you got your lead from a filled-in form where they explicitly stated their needs, you should open your talk with some qualifying questions. 

  • “What is your ideal solution?”
  • “What is it about what we do that you are interested in?”
  • “What budget has been established for this? What are your thoughts?”
  • “What is your timeline for implementing/purchasing this type of service/product?”
  • “Has your organization used other sales tools similar to ours? How was their performance?” 
  • “What business changes do you expect by working with us?”
  • “Who else is involved in this decision?”
  • “What would a successful partnership look like to you?”

Now you can identify which of your products could be their solution and how many steps and decision-makers the sales process will involve.

Rapport-building conversation starters

Knowing that you do have something on hand to help your prospect, you can build rapport and credibility. Your goal at this stage is to show you’re a friend and make them let their guard down a little.

"Top techniques to make the prospect trust you:

  • Unrivaled genuineness
  • Personal connection — remembering their kids’ names, spouse’s name, where they are from, and some personal stories they already told you. Never forget these little pieces of information.
  • Tonality, tonality, tonality — when to use what tones
  • Body language
  • Reading the room
  • Referencing industry expertise and real situations — memorize those case studies!"

Rosie Partmann, Head of Sales at Belkins

Here are our favorite open-ended sales questions for this phase:

  • “How did you get involved in [industry]?”
  • “What kind of challenges are you facing?”
  • “What motivated you to take this call today?”
  • “What is an ideal outcome for you?”
  • “What’s the most important priority to you with this? Why?”
  • “What other issues are important to you?”
  • “Can you walk me through how you’re currently doing it today?”
  • “What would you like to see improved? How do you measure that?”
  • “What will make this deal worth your while?” 
  • “I noticed that you downloaded our e-book called [e-book name]. Can you share what caught your attention in this asset?” 

This is your time to actively listen. Show genuine interest, learn about their day-to-day work, figure out what bothers them, and offer help.

Discovery questions for needs analysis

At the stage you’re assessing sales needs, you need to know the real job your buyer is trying to get done and how your solution plays into that. Find out precisely what they are trying to accomplish, what they have tried, and what it will take to earn their business.

Here are the power sales questions that will help you with this: 

  • “Can you give me an example of how this causes problems? Have you tried to solve this before? How did it go?” — Knowing previous solutions gives insight into their beliefs and knowledge, helps you understand possible competition or bias, and hints at budget.
  • “Could you help me understand some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in regard to [x] for your company?” — The point here is to quantify their pain in dollars and later bring them solutions to those problems. You’re not doing any “selling.” They are simply unveiling their struggles.
  • “You said [x]. Could you expand on what’s causing this challenge and the impact that it’s creating?” — Helps you understand how much pain they have, uncover how bad it hurts, and gauge their sense of urgency in solving the issue.
  • “Who feels the pain?” — It gives you an idea of the scale of the problem and sheds light on indirect decision-makers.
  • “What made you realize your current [x] was a problem? What motivated you to change today and not [x] months ago?”  — It gives an idea of the time frame and reveals the event that drove the need for change.
  • “What could you be doing that you aren’t able to do today if this weren’t an issue?” — It gives you leverage and a list of benefits to entice them with.
  • “If you could design this product yourself, what would it look like?” — Get all the dream features straight from the horse’s mouth. Often, the primary function of your product is taken for granted, while secondary features become the “aha!” sale closers.  
  • “It’s no secret that you’re in a highly competitive space, wouldn’t you agree? (Get confirmation.) So what makes you and [organization name] unique when compared to your competitors?” — A lot can be done here to discover competitive advantages that might set a company apart and make it easier for your team to deliver (relevant for sales, marketing, and ad companies).
  • “What is the 12-month goal for the business?” — Understanding their goals is the key to trying to help your prospect. Tie your pitch details to this information.
  • “If you didn’t solve it, could you live with it? What happens if you don’t do [x]? What would the business look like in 12 months if your situation didn’t change?” — This question lets you know if there are consequences to a nondecision. Prospects may tell you the worst-case scenario, which gives you leverage.
  • “How many stakeholders/departments/people are involved with this?” — It gives you an idea of how many decision-makers are there and helps discover blockers and politics. Also, the answer might bring up the decision-makers’ names.
  • “From this point, who can stop this from happening?” — This question can reveal a lot of missed discoveries from the previous question.
  • “What justifies the expense of this?” — It gives you insight into their business needs. This question also implies they have a budget and allows you to ask about it if you haven’t before.
  • “When does this need to be up and running? Not a buying time frame, but a working one? Walk me backward on how we get there. What’s the internal process so I can understand how you get to success?” — This gives you loads of information about the buying process, possible purchase date, legal timelines, proof of concept time, etc. without directly asking for it.
  • “Is there anything else that you could tell me?” 

Listen to all the answers carefully. Use them to tailor your pitch to what you hear from this specific person. For example, if they never mention financial constraints, don’t push money-saving, etc.

Objection-based questions to address concerns

Expecting objections helps you handle them better. No wonder there is a whole category of questions to ask a customer in sales when handling rejection. Think of an objection not as a no but as a chance to keep the conversation going. Use smart questions and trial closes to sway prospects to your point of view. 

"Here’s how to dig for client’s concerns:

  1. 1“It seems you’ve got some concerns I’ve not fully covered. Could you tell me what these are? Could you elaborate?” Take notes. Then say:
  2. “I see. Are there any other concerns that you have?” If there are, take notes and ask again until they’re out of concern.
  3. “Let’s suppose for the moment that [x] was not a concern. Then you’d want to go ahead?”

If they say no, ask this: “Then I guess there must be some other reason. May I ask what it is?”.

If they say yes, ask this question: “I guess we should talk about [x] in more detail. Does that make sense?”

Nothing to lose from this if you believe your prospect’s life will be better with your business.

People love authenticity, so you could try a direct approach: “[Prospect name], I know you’ll be good with our help. I must be doing a faulty job of explaining why. What is the fear stopping you that I’ve not addressed?”

Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins

Here are a few common objections you may encounter and the questions to ask to turn them around:

  • “I don’t have time for this now.”
    • “What are your top priorities if you don’t have time for this now?”
  • “We don’t have a budget for that.”
    • “How about we arrange a follow-up call around the time you’re expecting your funding? When might that be?”
  • “We’re already working with someone.”
    • “I’m curious: What led you to choose [vendor]? What aspects are working well for you, and what are lacking? I’d like the opportunity to show you how [product] offers a different approach.”
  • “I have a contract with a competitor.”
    • “How’s your experience with [competitor]? I might be able to offer a discount to ease the transition to our services and cover the cost of the switch.”
  • “I can get a cheaper analog of your product elsewhere.”
    • “What distinguishes [product] from your other options? Can you identify which offers more value and support to you?”
  • “I’m happy with a competitor.”
    • “That’s wonderful to hear. Could you share what aspects of the product or service you find most satisfying? I’m eager to understand more and explore how we stack up in comparison.”
  • “I don’t have the authority to make this purchase.”
    • “Could you please direct me to the person responsible for making this purchase decision?”
  • “I can’t sell this internally.”
    • “What kind of objections do you anticipate? I can assist in preparing a business case for your decision-makers and have some resources that could be useful for you.”

Delayed objections may come after you’ve had your initial conversation. If your prospect has had a post-demo internal meeting with their team, good follow-up questions are: 

  • “What was the team’s feedback?”
  • “Were there any hesitations we can address?”
  • “Did any questions come up that we can help answer?”

The goal is to understand what the internal discussion was and if you have new people internally selling for you (champions) or against you. 

Knowing the objections is paramount. If you are aware of the possible concerns, you can either come back to your prospect after solving them or address them in your pitch to avoid stumbling during your following calls. 

Questions to close the deal

As Dale Carnegie said, to win someone over, you need to start getting “yes” from them as early as possible in the conversation. Mixing trial closings into your sales pitch questions can help with this, getting people engaged and participating in conversation:

  • “Does that make sense?”
  • “What do you think of that?”
  • “How do you feel about that?” 
  • “Which of your challenges could this solve?” 
  • “What questions can I answer for you now?” 
  • “Is there anything that you like or don’t like about this solution/product so far?”

And here comes the moment to make your move. Supposing everything goes smoothly, you can shift the conversation to closing the deal with something along the lines of: 

  • “If there aren’t any other questions, and I’ve put the concerns to rest, what implementation timeline do you have in mind?”
  • “Is anything preventing us from moving forward by the end of the day/week/month?”
  • “Do you feel ready to get started/get set up?”
  • “What would you like the next steps to look like?” 
  • “Would you like me to send the contract over now?”
  • “In creating a new pipeline for you, this is how we would go about next steps …”

"My closing techniques are very soft. 

It might sound like: 

“OK [prospect name], we’ve confirmed that Belkins is able to help you drive [x] meetings over 3 months. My next step is to prepare a proposal including our fees and the scope of work. Are you good with that, or is there anything else that you feel we should address?” 

This gives the prospect a way out if they aren’t ready, but it keeps me in the hunt. If they aren’t ready to close, then they’ll address the concerns. 

Once they confirm that I’m good to send the proposal, I’ll follow up with: 

“OK, it’s great that we are aligned. When should I expect your feedback on the proposal?” This gives me a timeline for follow-up. Then I’ll say, “Awesome. Provided everything looks good on the proposal, I’ll build a contract to prepare for launch. Are you still thinking that [date] is perfect for us to kick things off?” 

This sets a framework for us to progress."

Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins

Congratulations! We hope you’ll get to this point in as many of your sales calls as possible. 

However, even using the best questions and sales techniques, the threshold for closed sales is never 100% or even 50% or 20%. Be ready for a lot of “not interested” drops, but remember: Each no gets you closer to an inevitable yes.

Mistakes to avoid when asking sales questions

  1. Not doing homework on the leads. If you don’t attempt to learn all the details of your leads — the history, the decision-making authorities, the users at the customer end, and the future growth plans — you can’t pinpoint what services or products the client will need.
  2. Trying to dominate the conversation. Some salespeople think that they will impress clients by dominating the conversation. Nothing is farther from the truth. Talking less and listening more, as well as giving customers more chances to speak, will make them feel more important.
  3. Launching into the sales pitch too soon. In a hurry to familiarize clients with your products, you may fail to understand the problems the client is trying to solve. Let customers explain their needs, and use this time to mentally prepare for your product presentation and sales pitch. 
  4. Not actively listening. This can make the prospect feel undervalued and break the flow of information. Active listening is critical. Use filler words and mirror the prospect to keep the flow going.
  5. Not making pauses. Short silence after your prospect’s answer can work for you. People’s brains want to fill in the silence. So get comfortable with 5–8-second pauses, which can get you more information.
  6. Failing to customize questions. Each prospect is unique, and there is a reason why you are asking all these questions. Tailor your next question based on their previous response. It shows understanding and respect.
  7. Making assumptions and accepting ambiguous responses. Vague information leads to misinterpretations. It’s better to clarify information up front so you can move on with accurate understanding.
  8. Focusing too much on selling. No one likes to be sold to, but people do want to be helped. If you can execute the above well, then you’ll win business and prospects will enjoy their buying experience. 

How do you know a great seller? Their customers think it’s their choice to buy from this person every time. 

Now what?

Never use canned questions. Instead, weave in personalized questions naturally, as in a chat with a peer who needs your help. Let them tell you their sorrows, and they’ll willingly give you all the information you need to provide them relief. 

Be a good storyteller and a great listener, learn to disguise sales-related questions — and only use them when the conversation is organically going your way. 

Our decade of closed deals and outstanding success rates have proven that this strategy works.

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Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.