The Art of Asking Questions – 5 simple sales tips

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Would you mind if I asked you a question?

Do you want to know how to get more sales?

Can you do me a favour?…great just read a little further.

There is an art to asking questions in marketing that can make a big difference to your sales.

A lot of business owners or employees may say “I’m not good at sales” or “I don’t like being pushy”, even “I don’t want to sound too salesy”.

These statements resonate with me, as I have never liked the traditional ‘sales pitches’ but I’m here to tell you, it’s possible to improve your sales by just asking the right questions in the right way.

You will see from how I opened this blog post some examples of what I mean.

1. Ask if you can ask

When you come into contact with a prospect, it’s usually in the form of a general enquiry eg. How much is….? What’s included in….?. You helpfully answer their questions and they say “thanks very much and I’ll think about it” before walking out, hanging up the phone or ending the email conversation.

But what if at that point you asked them “Would you mind if I asked you a question?”.

Nine times out of 10 the prospect will say, “no I don’t mind”. They’ve given you permission to continue the dialogue. They may in fact be just doing it out of politeness but by doing this they’re actually providing an opportunity to hear answers to the questions they haven’t asked.

So you then can start with something like:

“Could you tell me why you rang/email/came into our store today, what was the problem you needed solving?”. Then “tell me more about that”.

Dig, dig to find out more about their exact problem and needs and use it as an opener to provide a LOT MORE helpful information that can take you closer to a sale.

2. Ask for a favour

This is similar to ‘asking if you can ask’ but more specifically you’re asking “Can you do me a favour?”.

Once again nine times out of 10 the prospect is most likely to be a little perplexed but is inclined to say ‘Yes’ as most of us by nature want to be helpful.

You may not even wait for a response, you may go straight from “Can you do me a favour?” to “Could you tell me why you rang/email/came into our store today, what was the problem you needed solving?”. Then “tell me more about that”.

3. Make the assumption

Asking for permission when you want to ask more questions or you want a favour makes sense, but don’t ask for permission when it comes to your call to action. Assume that they want to proceed.

So let’s say for example your call to action is book an appointment – don’t ask “Would you like to book an appointment”, instead ask “What days suit you best to come in for an appointment”.

Here are some examples of making an assumption when it comes to a call to action.

What’s the best address to send some more information to?
When would be a good time for you to book in…?
What day would suit you for….?

4. Ask a question that elicits a ‘Yes’

Try not to ask questions that elicit a no response. Yes is a much more positive word and while the difference in the question can be subtle it can make a great difference.

Eg. A gym might say “Are you ready for summer?” with the expected answer being ‘no’. This could be changed to “Do you want to be ready for summer?”; or “Do you have enough customers?” vs “Do you want more customers?”. You should also use loads of positive language.

5. But why?

Stuck for a question to ask when speaking to a prospect? then start with “why?”.

I remember seeing an interview a few years back with a celebrated Australian journalist and he said the only question he ever needed over the years was ‘Why?’. As a former journalist this really resonated with me.

Like an annoying 5-year-old – trust me I know this – “but why” is the most powerful question.

Ask a prospect, “why is that?”, “why did you…”, “why today?” or even “why not?”.

“Why” is the most powerful open ended question in existence.

So do you want to know more about how to improve your sales – go to You can also check out my Sensational Sales Techniques blog post.

Kylie Fennell
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