5 Sales Questions for Better Customer Conversations

Allen Malapit
July 1, 2015

As any seasoned sales rep will tell you, staying on track during a customer conversation can be tricky, and building rapport with your clients while also sticking to your planned sales goals is a kind of balancing act. Asking direct, pointed sales questions can be a great way to lead your clients into a conversation where you can present solutions and close the deal. It is also an effective way to get back on track if you feel the conversation drifting. Plan your sales questions wisely. Choose questions that you can anticipate the answer to and always have a follow-up. Ask questions that will provide you with insight, gain your customers’ trust, and get them talking so you can showcase your ability as a rep to meet their needs. Here are a few powerful questions to add to your repertoire, and why they’re effective.

Sales Questions for Better Customer Conversations

1. Which products have been selling well for you?

This is a great question because it gives you insight on what is working and what isn’t, as well as where to direct the conversation. Studies show that establishing a relationship and uncovering needs is the number one phase that is most challenging in sales. It is also one of the most effective approaches. For example, if your retailer tells you s/he is really pleased with how particular products are selling through, you aren’t going to waste time by trying to sell them something that they already know they want. Rather, make a note to yourself about what is currently working so you can upsell new colors, sizes, or similar/complementary products and introduce new products that they might not have known about. If, on the other hand, some items aren't moving off the shelf as quickly as they'd like, you can present alternatives and talk about top selling items.

2. What would you like to have enhanced or improved?

Store visits are a forum in which you have the opportunity to not just make sales, but also provide a high level of service, following up with buyers to find out what kind of support they need and how you can help. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to anticipate the answer to this question and have solutions prepared. Be cautious in terms of how you suggest those solutions. It shouldn’t be a direct sales pitch. Instead, demonstrate how your level of service or a certain product can fill a need. Perhaps your products can help a retailer solve a problem in their store––tell them about sales success stories or product performance numbers at other similar stores. Buyers want easy ways to increase their bottom line.

3. Do you have any feedback on this particular product? 

Whether you show a retailer a sample or simply ask about a product that they're already stocking in their store, asking for feedback can be an effective way to fortify the wholesaler-retailer relationship and increase sales down the line. With this question, you're not only demonstrating to the retailer that you value their opinion and are actively looking to improve their sell-through, you may also gain important market insight on how a retailer's end customers perceive the product. Where there's room for improvement, there's an opportunity to increase sales on both sides of the chain.

4. How can we make it easier for you to place orders? 

This question demonstrates a commitment to making your retailers' lives easier and improving the customer experience. While other wholesalers might compete on price or product, which are ultimately unsustainable strategies, the most effective competitive differentiator available to a wholesale brand is service. Retailers have busy lives. Would it be easier for them to be able to place reorders on the web or on a mobile app? Would it be easier to make purchase decisions if sales reps were to offer key insights on top selling items across different product categories? These are questions that you should be asking your company, as well as your retailers directly. Follow up with questions that prove you've done your research and are looking for ways to help them succeed. For example, "I know that having multiple ways to place orders is a top priority. We're currently looking into setting up a B2B eCommerce site."

5. What are some of the top qualities you look for in a supplier?

Think of this as a question you would ask a potential employer on a job interview. It can take some courage, but this question is a great way to evaluate what your retailer values, and to see how you can align yourself with their needs. Some things to consider before asking this question to your retailer: does your product or service measure up to what they are looking for, or does it exceed their expectations? How can you as a rep improve their experience? Asking a powerful question like this will help you gain valuable insight into what your retailer needs from you. Use the information they give you to showcase your ability as a rep to meet their needs. Do you have some great sales questions up your sleeve? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!