Questions are sales reps’ most powerful tools. By asking the right questions, sales professionals can build rapport, uncover important details about their customers, and even influence prospects’ decision-making process.

However, not all questions are created equal.

Generally speaking, most sales resources insist that asking open-ended questions yields much better results and sparks more meaningful conversations. While it’s true that when misused, especially during the wrong parts of a sales conversation, close-ended questions can flatline sales reps’ ability to close a prospect, there are some situations where close-ended questions can be useful and even necessary.

The key is to combine close-ended and open-ended questions to unearth as much information about your prospect as possible and get them to start thinking about their pain points and sharing valuable details.

This article will focus on close-ended questions for sales and help you frame them properly at the right moment.

Close-ended vs. open-ended sales questions

The main difference between the two is that open-ended questions allow prospects to answer using complete sentences, elaborate on the topic, and provide more detailed insights.

Close-ended questions, on the other hand, limit answers by requiring prospects to select from a set of predefined options, such as yes or no, true or false, or a rating scale.

Whereas probing open-ended sales questions often start with words like “why” and “how,” you’ll notice that close-ended questions start with verbs like “are,” “is,” “did,” and “which.”

And while you use open ones during sales calls to understand your prospect’s business better and to get them to open up more, close-ended questions work best to:

  • Get quantitative data from a lead
  • Learn basic biographical information
  • Get exact and direct answers
  • Decide if it makes sense to continue pursuing a lead based on budgets and timelines
  • Set goals and KPIs you aim to achieve and exceed
  • Fact-check
  • Push the sales process forward.

Another great way to use closed-ended questions is when you need to assess how cold or warm a lead is.

Plus, the specific nature of closed-ended questions makes them ideal for diagnosing, i.e., uncovering the needs the prospect may not be yet aware of or perceive as a problem. But, once you directly ask them, they start thinking about it and realizing they need a solution for a previously unnoticed problem.

Here’s an example: “Do all of your sales development reps use the technology to its full capability?”

Since these questions are designed to help you get short, specific answers, make sure not to prepare a long list of close-ended questions when you want to initiate long discussions with prospects or build an emotional connection.

4 types of close-ended questions every sales pro needs to know

Close-ended questions have many advantages: they’re easy to answer, statistical analysis is simpler, and they often provide better insight.

But you can’t just ask any question and expect it to help seal the deal. For maximum results, stick to these four types of close-ended sales questions.

1. Ranking in order

What does your prospect value the most?

When you ask this type of close-ended question, you set out to learn more about their needs

Here’s what it looks like: “Please rank the following in order of importance from one to four, where one is most important to you in a product, and four is least important: reliability, multi-functionality, user friendly, speed of service.”

2. One or the other

The dichotomous close-ended question might be the easiest type for prospects to interpret and answer.

If framed the right way, there are only two possible answers: yes or no, or true or false — the only exception is if you ask a question that seeks a direct answer.

Some examples include “Are you pleased with your current vendor?” or “What’s your favorite CRM?”

3. Classic checklist or multiple choice

Checklists and multiple-choice questions are some of the most popular types during a sales call. People love having several options to choose from.

Multiple choice close-ended questions usually include several parts: the question itself is the stem, then you have the correct answer, distractor questions to throw people off the scent of the right one, and some alternative answers.

Besides, when you ask this type of question, you get to limit the possible responses, making data collection much easier.

4. The 0-5 rating scale

Do you agree or disagree? Do you agree strongly, or are you neutral?

Sales reps should use rating scale close-ended questions to score information about a specific service, product, or feature, especially if qualitative measures are part of the process.

Here are two examples:

1️⃣ “On a scale of 1 to 5, how disinterested or interested are you in purchasing a sales engagement tool? 1 = not at all interested, and 5 = extremely interested.”

2️⃣ “Rate your agreement with this statement: ‘I understand who this product is for. 1 means you strongly disagree, and 5 means you strongly agree.”

35 best close-ended questions for sales pros to ask prospects

Now that we’ve explained the science behind close-ended sales questions, we’ll round up the most effective ones you can use on your next sales call to get pointed answers from your prospects about their business needs.

1. Is your #1 goal to increase sales/reduce costs/improve quality?

This question identifies your prospect’s primary objective and helps you align your solution directly with their most critical goal, making your offering immediately relevant and impactful.

2. What vendor(s) do you use currently?

Pinpointing client’s current vendors offers a twofold advantage: it reveals their preferences and expectations, and it gives you insight into the competition. When you have this information, it will be easier to position your product or service as a superior choice.

3. Where and how did you hear about us?

How effective is your marketing, and which channels work best? This question helps you evaluate which channel brings you the most leads. It also offers a glimpse into the prospect’s research process and how they perceive your brand.

4. Do you have any must-haves, should-haves, and could-haves for this solution?

This question helps you understand the potential client’s priorities and non-negotiables. It allows you to customize your solution to meet their specific requirements and sets the stage for a more focused discussion.

5. Are you in charge of the decision-making process?

Identifying the decision-maker is crucial in sales. This question helps determine whether you’re talking to the right person, who has the authority to approve or reject your offer.

6. Who are the stakeholders we need to contact to close this deal?

Given that multiple stakeholders often influence the decision-making process, it’s crucial to map out the decision hierarchy so that you can strategize your approach accordingly.

7. Are you satisfied with your current sales numbers?

This question directly addresses the potential client’s performance pain points. A negative response opens avenues to position your product or service as a solution to improve their sales outcomes.

8. Do you feel like you got all the information you needed?

This question checks for any gaps in understanding or expectations. It ensures the client feels heard and understood, thus paving the way for building trust and advancing toward closing the deal.

9. What’s your timeline for making a purchase decision?

Knowing the prospect’s timeline is essential for aligning your sales strategy with their schedule. This way, forecasting and prioritizing your efforts will be easier, resulting in a timely proposal and avoiding pressure or delay that could jeopardize the deal.

10. How likely are you to make a purchase from us again?

Building long-term relationships with your customers is critical, so you should try to find out how happy they are with your brand and customer service in general. Besides, by asking this question, you can learn more about the areas of improvement.

11. Do you know what your KPIs are?

Understanding your prospect’s KPIs is essential for demonstrating how your product or service can contribute to their success and helps you align your offering with their business goals.

12. Are you comparing us against other vendors?

This question helps you understand the prospect’s buying process and their evaluation criteria. Knowing if and how they are comparing you to competitors enables you to differentiate your offering and highlight unique features or services.

13. Did you like our competitor’s latest campaign?

Similar to the previous question, this one also aims to provide valuable insights into the prospect’s preferences and industry trends. It can also open discussions about how your product or service might offer something different or better, helping you to position your offering more effectively.

14. Do you have a website/blog/portfolio that showcases what you do?

Showing genuine interest in understanding the prospect’s business can strengthen your relationship. It helps you tailor your approach to their specific business context and needs while also demonstrating you’re detail-oriented and willing to go above and beyond to help them overcome their challenges.

15. Are there other products or solutions you use that our product has to integrate with?

This question is essential for understanding your product’s technical and operational compatibility with the prospect’s existing systems. It helps customize your solution to fit seamlessly into their current setup and enhance its usability.

16. Do you like this feature our product provides?

Asking about a specific feature helps evaluate the prospect’s interest and preferences. It can also provide feedback on the product’s strengths and areas for improvement, guiding future development and marketing strategies.

17. Do you think you’re doing all you can with your [insert area] efforts?

This question invites your prospect to evaluate their current strategies, simultaneously presenting your product as a way to enhance their efforts in a specific area.

18. Does this make sense to you so far?

Taking a break during a sales conversation is important for ensuring the prospect follows and understands your pitch. This check-in question encourages open communication and clarifies any confusion.

19. How satisfied are you with our level of communication?

This feedback-oriented question helps in assessing the effectiveness of your communication strategy. It also demonstrates you’re committed to providing a great customer experience.

20. Do you want us to improve your experience?

A follow-up to the previous question, this one demonstrates your willingness to adapt and enhance the customer’s experience with your brand. It invites specific suggestions for improvement and shows that you prioritize customer satisfaction and engagement.

21. Do you agree/disagree with our proposal/feedback/recommendation?

Seeking direct feedback, this question gives your prospect the floor to share their thoughts and ideas. It shows that you value their opinion and are open to making adjustments to meet their needs better.

22. Have you ever executed this kind of project before?

Understanding the prospect’s experience with similar projects can guide your approach. This query helps tailor your communication and support based on their familiarity and expertise.

23. Have you faced any challenges with this kind of product or service?

Asking about your prospect’s previous challenges can position your product or service as the right solution.

24. How can I help you grow your business?

Customers expect sales reps to act as consultants. Rather than simply pushing your agenda, spend some time getting to know your prospects and their needs.

25. Do you think this solution can help you perform better?

This question helps your prospect envision your solution’s impact and see its practical benefits.

26. Did you like or dislike the product demo?

Gathering specific feedback on the demo allows you to understand the prospect’s preferences, reservations, and objections.

27. Will you be deciding within the next two months?

By indicating the prospect’s decision-making timeline, urgency, and commitment level, this question allows you to plan your follow-up strategy.

28. Is this the sort of solution you’re looking for?

This question will determine if your product or service is the right fit for the prospect’s needs and is instrumental in the qualification process. 

29. Would you recommend our product/service?

A litmus test for customer satisfaction and perceived value, this question will also tell you if you can expect some referrals from your customers.

30. When would you like to set a follow-up?

Respecting the prospect’s time and preferences can go a long way. This question facilitates ongoing engagement and keeps the conversation moving forward according to their schedule and without being pushy.

31. Are you considering changing your suppliers for this product?

Is the prospect open for change? This question will help you reveal opportunities for your product or service to fill a gap or provide a better solution.

32. Are you happy with your existing supplier?

Just like the previous question, this one tests the prospect’s willingness to consider other alternatives. A negative response can give you a cue to pitch your solution more openly.

33. Do you think [insert a potential area of concern] is a problem for you?

This targets a specific area of concern and shifts a focus to how your solution can address a particular issue the prospect might be facing.

34. Does this fall into your budget range?

Discussing the budget upfront helps assess the feasibility of the deal from a financial perspective and saves you from investing resources into a lead that can’t afford your product or service. It ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding financial expectations and constraints.

35. Are you ready to move forward with this? (OR: When can we begin?)

This direct approach checks the prospect’s readiness to proceed and gives you an idea about how seriously they are considering your solution. 

In Conclusion

The top salespeople succeed because they aren’t afraid to ask important questions for uncovering their prospects’ biggest challenges. Close-ended questions for sales, although not as popular as their open-ended counterparts, are useful for confirming facts, testing assumptions, or getting a commitment from the prospect. By combining both types of questions, you can unearth valuable information from your prospects and move them through the sales funnel more effectively.

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