Most salespeople know that they should be asking their customers questions during discovery meetings. Unfortunately, very few salespeople know which questions to ask. Some of the most common sales questions are nothing but ineffective fluff that fill up time--but do nothing to help close the sale.

If you only ask three questions of your customers for the rest of your career, it should be the following ones. Start incorporating these questions into every sales meeting, and you'll start to dominate your competition in sales:

1. "What is this problem costing you?"

Average salespeople are eager to pitch their product or service. But the most successful salespeople in the world don't even begin a sales presentation until they have a thorough understanding of their customer's key challenges. Start your sales meeting by discussing common challenges you've seen in the industry--challenges that your offering can ultimately solve.

Once your customers open up about a key challenge in their organization, try asking, "What is this problem costing you?" This answer will create massive value for your solution by providing context for the decision to purchase. If a challenge is costing an organization $3 million, and your solution costs $300,000, then your offering will be a no-brainer for the customer who has articulated that cost.

2. "How much would you invest in a solution to that challenge?"

Next, it's time to ask for a budget so that you can plan a solution accordingly. Many old-school sales gurus warn that you shouldn't ask for a budget because it won't work. They're wrong--they just don't know how to go about it in the right way. Once your customer answers your first question about the cost of their problem, it should feel very natural to ask, "How much would you invest in a solution to that challenge?"

If the budget the customer reveals is significantly less than the price of your offering, you're now equipped to deal with that before you ever give a proposal. On the other hand, if the budget is more than enough, then you'll be able to present a high-end solution with confidence--and ultimately close more profitable sales.

3. "How do you make decisions about something of this nature?"

Never present a solution without first understanding your customer's decision-making process. If you do, you might just get all the way to the end of a presentation only to hear, "This sounds great, but I need to run it by John before we make a decision." You'll be left scratching your head, wondering who in the world John is.

You want to know every decision maker involved, as well as the timeline for making the decision, before you ever present a solution. To understand that process, simply ask, "How do you make decisions about something of this nature?" The answer will prevent those frustrating curve balls and make sure you're both on the same page for the rest of the sales process.

Have you ever used one of these 3 powerful sales questions in a selling situation? What was the result? Share your experiences in the comments below.