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How to Ask Better Sales Questions by Defining Intent

Graphic Showing Presenting a Question MarkThe questions you're asking buyers may be good. But you can ask better questions simply by thinking through the purpose of each and every question you ask.

Contrast these three question pairs to distinguish between the before and after versions of questions.

The “before” questions were vague because the sellers weren’t quite sure what they wanted to achieve. The “after” questions are better questions because the seller paused to get clarity.

Related: Which Selling Behaviors Are Your Buyers Looking For?

How to Ask Better Sales Questions

Better Sales Questions: Example #1

Before: You’ve been with ABC Company a long time, right?

After: Tell me more about your history with ABC Company.

Intention: To understand the buyer’s history and background, not merely to generate “small talk.”

Better Sales Questions: Example #2

Before: Do you have any plans to expand in the near term?

After: What is your strategy in this market over the next 5 years?

Intention: To learn about the 5-year strategy in one market.

Better Sales Questions: Example #3

Before: How are we stacking up so far?

After: What will the deciding factor be in choosing a supplier?

Intention: To identify the top decision criteria in supplier selection.

Starting with the intention enables sellers to craft more effective questions, like the “after” questions shown here. Before you ask a question, ask yourself “what do I really want to know and why?” This mental exercise will instantly improve the questions you ask.

Once you pinpoint what it is you’re interested in, your question will be more specific. The buyer’s answer will give you the information you’re looking for. You’ll be less likely to belabor the interview with follow-up questions that go in endless circles. The construction of your better sales questions will yield the content you desire.

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