A salesperson's job is rarely easy. It takes time and effort to build a relationship with a prospect, and no matter how much energy you've invested, there's still a chance they'll say no.

The best sales teams know that the key to landing more business is putting yourself in the mindset of the customer. That means asking thoughtful, specific questions that show the prospect you have their best interests in mind. These seven entrepreneurs share their top sales questions that will help close the deal.

What would you like to achieve?

Vik Patel, CEO of Future Hosting, shares that a potential client is talking to you because they have a specific goal in mind. Asking about that goal can help you better position yourself as their pathway to achieving it.

"A lead thinks your product will help them achieve their goal," he says. "It is your job as a salesperson to foster that belief, and to do so, you need to understand the goal. Then you can tailor your pitch so that it focuses on the aspects of the product that are most important to the lead."

What is your biggest problem?

Similar to asking a lead about their goals, inquiring about challenges can help you cut to the core of what your prospective client needs. After all, sales is about selling a solution to a problem, reveals Jared Ross Weitz, CEO of United Capital Source Inc.

"I ask prospects who are looking for capital what their net profit margins are and how often per year they are turning them," he says. "Once we know this, we understand what they can afford. If you can clearly show someone why your solution solves their issues, then it's an easier close."

Are you ready to start earning a return on your investment?

No one wants to spend money on a product or service that doesn't provide value. Serenity Gibbons, local unit lead for NAACP, says it's crucial to help your prospect see the potential return on their investment in you.

"When you put a timeline on it and urgency that relates to them starting to see the results of the investment, it can help close the deal," she explains. "They know your product can help them, but this lets them know they could start to benefit from those results now."

If you were in my shoes, what would you propose?

Sometimes, simply turning the tables and asking a client how they would try to sell to themselves can give you incredible insight into what they truly want.

"People can be very vocal about what they need, but they often hold back, as well," says Brandon Stapper, CEO of Nonstop Signs. "If you tell a customer, 'Pretend you work for us; what would you offer yourself right now?' it takes them by surprise and often shakes loose one more showstopper that can close the deal."

How could you see us working together?

It's important to help your customer make the connection in their minds about you working with them, according to Dan Golden, co-founder and president of BFO (Be Found Online). Asking them how they envision your team's collaboration can facilitate this connection.

"It's an open-ended question that lets them start to sell themselves," Golden says. "If they can't answer that question, either there's a lot more work to be done, or it may not be a good fit for either business."

What would you like to happen next?

FE International founder Thomas Smale says that asking a potential customer what they want to happen can give real insights into their desires and expectations. It also avoids putting undue pressure on them to commit, which often scares prospects off.

"Empathizing with your customer's needs shows that their business is important, and that you're willing to work with them on a timeline that's convenient for them," says Smale.

What do I need to do to earn your business?

This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask a prospective client. Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged, believes in this simple but direct approach and encourages her team to follow it.

"I have found that when asking someone this question upfront, they seem to give an honest answer toward the steps that need to be taken," she says.

Published on: Sep 10, 2018