82 Open Ended Sales Questions (Ultimate Guide Included)

photo of a sales rep with many questions

Did you know that asking questions makes it more likely for customers to approve of you? It’s true. Research conducted at Harvard University suggests asking questions improves liking and learning.

Open ended sales questions are a crucial aspect of the sales process. They allow salespeople such as yourself to better understand the customer’s needs, goals, and challenges. This leads to higher levels of trust and rapport, and ultimately more closed deals.

In this article, we’ll review the 12 types of open ended questions to ask, when to ask them, and other emerging best practices.

Additionally, we’ll cover some of the common mistakes to avoid when asking open ended sales questions.

With the information in this blog, you’ll have a better understanding of how to effectively use open ended questions to drive your sales success (especially if you’re in field sales).

Let’s get started (or fast forward using the table of contents below)!

What are open ended sales questions?

Open ended sales questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. They force the customer to think and respond with an insightful answer. This is why open ended questions are great for gathering information and understanding the needs, wants, and pain points of a customer.

Here are the five most popular open ended sales questions we use at Veloxy:

  1. How’ve you been?
  2. What’s the biggest headache you’re facing right now?
  3. So tell me, what do you like about the [current solution] you’re using? (after agreeing with them, move to #4)
  4. And what don’t you like about the [current solution], and how does it impact you? (after helping them dive deeper, move to #5)
  5. If you could design this [current solution] yourself, what would that look like?

Kudos to Jordan Belfort for the last three questions.

What's the difference between open ended and close ended questions?

Close ended questions are questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no,” or with a specific piece of information. They usually sound like “Should we schedule 15 minutes?” or “What is your current CRM?”

On the other hand, open-ended questions encourage dialogue and gather in-depth information about a person’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences. Open-ended questions usually start with phrases like “How do you feel about…,” or “What do you think about…”.

In general, close ended questions are best for gathering clear, straightforward information, while open ended questions are better for exploring a topic in more detail and building rapport with the person you’re speaking with.

graphic of close ended questions

Five examples of close ended sales questions

  1. Have you used a similar [product/service] before?
  2. Are you interested in purchasing this [product/service] in the near future?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this [product/service] to a friend?
  4. Have you budgeted for this purchase?
  5. Have you received a quote from any other vendors?
As you can see, close ended questions do not encourage quality dialogue. Rather, they’re best for chronological sequences of information gathering.

Why should you ask open ended sales questions?

There is an endless debate on which question type is better. While close ended questions give you faster and direct results, open ended questions deliver richer and more valuable insights.

Here are the top five reasons you should ask more open ended questions:

1. Better understand customer needs and pain points

If you were to ask ten prospects, “Do you wish you could improve the productivity of your team by two or three times?”, you’d likely get ten yeses. Unfortunately, a “yes” does not help you better qualify a customer.

On the other hand, if you were to ask ten prospects, “What do you think is preventing your team from doubling their productivity?”, you’d get answers that are uniquely insightful to each account.

"Your customers have a lot on their mind. What's top of mind is not always the pain point that you're capable of solving. Always lead with an open ended question that will generate curiosity. It won't kill the cat. Rather, it will create a rabbit hole of a sales conversation."
samir majumdar
Samir Majumdar
Cofounder, Veloxy