Questions that Lead to Sales Success

There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to Sales Questioning Techniques – and you could literally spend years searching and piecing together an effective strategy.

I know – I did.

But even after years of trying to simplify the subject for my book Selling with EASE – the subject matter could have easily had another edition all to itself – and I can only ever touch on the relevant areas as part of my Foundation Workshops (there’s an advanced workshop required to really grasp the complexity of it all)

So today I’ve gone one step further – and I’d like to share five questions with you, that if used appropriately, will;

  • Give you a better understanding of your customers real needs
  • Enable prospects and customers to recognise the value of your proposal all by themselves
  • Explain why choosing another supplier – other than you – might be a bad move
  • Draw any objections out nice and early, so you can get on with helping them make a great buying decision.

Most salespeople are aware of the six words that start open questions;

Who; What; Where; When; Why and How.

If you’re trying to be consultative and don’t use those six words, you’re simply guessing – as an example, someone might ask;

“Is Micronesia next to Italy?”

Whereas a person who understands the value of open questions would ask;

“Where is Micronesia?”

So far; so easy. But here’s something I’d like you to think about from now on.

During your next pre-call planning (you do make time for pre-call planning, don’t you?), use a mixture of those open questioning words to create five breathtakingly brilliant questions around this acronym – OPENS.

OPENS stands for Opportunity, Prize, Escape, Next and Stopper.


This question should be used to find out what they really need and how you can help bring the solution into reality.

  • What difference do they want to see?
  • What will happen next week – that isn’t happening now – when they get everything they need?
  • Why do they feel they need to change something?


The PRIZE question is going to uncover the good things they’ll receive for making a positive change.

  • Who else will be happy with the successful outcome of this decision?
  • Who will thank them for getting it right?
  • What effect will success have on their career?
  • What rewards will they receive for success?
  • What does getting it right mean for them?


The ESCAPE question should be used to discover the current pain or uncomfortable consequences of either keeping things as they are or making the wrong choice altogether.

  • What happens if they don’t get what they want?
  • What effect will a bad decision have on their career?
  • What will making the wrong decision mean to them?
  • Who else will this affect?


This question should be used to uncover their alternatives.

  • What else are they looking at?
  • How soon do they need to get started?
  • Why is doing nothing an option?


Use this question to understand what they can’t or won’t do.

  • What is definitely off the table?
  • What hasn’t worked previously?
  • Why?

Prepare yourself with just one question from each category and I guarantee you’ll uncover more useful information than 90% of your competition ever do.

And if you actually take the time to listen to the answers – you’ll end up with a customer who feels that someone was genuinely interested in their problem rather than just another salesperson who turned up to sell them something.



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