These open-ended B2B sales prospecting questions will cover you from picking up the phone through qualifying and discovery to placing prospects in the pipe.
Sales calls usually start with the salesperson presenting themself and saying why they’re calling. It’s crucial to get this right so prospects don’t hang up immediately.
1. I’ll be upfront, this is a cold call. It’s up to you: you can either hang up now or let me have 30 seconds and then decide?
This honest approach is risky as some people will just hang up, but it does score high for honesty and directness. If you survive the first few seconds, you should have a good chance of having a conversation.
2. Hey [prospect’s first name], [your first name] calling from [your company]. Who’s in charge of [prospect’s responsibility/area you’re targeting]?
At first glance, this opener seems like it’d get you a brusque “That’s me, jerk” (which you should know from your research). Instead, though, it flatters them and gets them talking.
3. Hi [prospect name], this is [your name] from [your company]. We [how you help]. Do you have 27 seconds for me to tell you about it?
Ok, it’s not a question, but the “27 seconds” pattern interrupt (“Huh? Most people ask for 30 seconds”) helps avoid the knee-jerk “no” reaction.
4. What do you know about [your company/product/service]?
A better approach than jumping down their throats with your pitch.
5. What would it take for you to hear me out?
Ask this if they’re unwilling to give you the time of day. At worst, it’ll keep the conversation going a bit longer. At best, they’ll come up with something you can use to tailor future approaches.
6. I noticed you downloaded our [lead magnet]. What motivated you to check that out?
A good question to ask inbound leads to reveal their pain and needs.
7. How can I help you get the most out of it? (ditto)
If you survived the first few seconds, the next dragon you’re likely to face is The Objection.
We already use [your competitor] / I'm locked into a contract with [your competitor]
8. That’s fine / [your competitor] is great. How’s that working out for you?
No matter how great your competitor is, there will be something they don’t like about it, so this pattern-interrupt question from Justin Michael should get them talking about any issues, and give you clues as to how to position your solution.
9. Not a problem. What if you plugged us in alongside [your competitor] to turbocharge your [prospect’s task] / multiply the effectiveness of your [current solution/stack/processes]?
Bet nobody ever suggested that before!
10. We do integrate with [competitor / non-directly competing product/service]. When our other customers tell us about that, though, they say the experience [challenge/problem]. Is that what you're facing with them? / How are they handling that?
11. I understand. What do you like most about it, just so I can be better informed?
12. That’s great, is there anything additional you’d like [competitor solution] to do?Ideally, something your solution does that theirs doesn’t.
13. When does your contract expire?
This is crucial to know because timing is everything. Find this out and you can drop them into a customized re-invigoration sequence in Mixmax to check back in further down the line. Remember, your goal on a cold sales call isn’t to sell, but start building a relationship by being genuinely interested in how you could help and it’s always worth taking the time to listen.
14. If we could do a better job than your current supplier and were cheaper, what would it take for you to work with us?
We're happy with the way things are
15. I get it, change is stressful. Even if there's plenty of upsides, would you still stick with [prospect’s current status quo]?
We're doing great in this area / We have that covered / We have everything we need
16. That’s great, how are you achieving that? I talk to a lot of [prospect’s role], and most struggle with [challenge/task/goal]. How did you do it specifically?
Flattery will get you everywhere, and probably reveal they aren’t doing as great as they’d like to make out.
17. Do you handle that internally or work with a 3rd party? Tell me more…
This isn’t a priority now
18. What would make it a priority?
19. I get that. What about [other quarter]? What would make it a priority then?
20. So what are your current priorities? If you walk me through them, maybe there’s a way I can help.
It’s too expensive / I don't see the potential for ROI
21. Our customers achieve [believable ROI] on average. What ROI would tempt you to try it out?
22. What kind of ROI are you looking for?
I'm not interested
23. What would it take to interest you?
Call me back in 3/6 months
24. No problem. What’s likely to have changed by then?
Send me an email
25. Is there anything specific you’d like me to include in that email?
26. Sure. Is there anyone else I should copy on that email who could find the information useful?
(gives you insights into their decision-making process and which stakeholders you need to target)
Related Post: 75 Sales Prospecting Email Subject Lines to Get More Responses
Questions to pique their interest/gather information
The idea with these questions is to do a bit of discovery and show them you understand their challenges to get them more interested in taking the meeting.
Note that the idea isn’t to ask all these questions in the first cold sales call. You don’t want to overwhelm them at this stage.
27. I know a lot of [companies in prospect’s industry] are using [common but ineffective solution] to manage [common challenge], or maybe a custom system. Is that what you're using, and what do you think of it?
This approach shows you understand their industry, and gives them an easy way to fess up to their challenges without seeming like they’re the only one who’s struggling.
28. We’ve heard about some common issues regarding [common task/problem]. Do these apply to your situation?
29. How are you managing [common task or challenge] today?
Booking a meeting
If you’ve managed to pique their interest, the next step is to get them on a meeting with your AE. Always try to schedule it during the call. If for some reason that doesn't work out, here's the second best option:
30. I’ve sent you over some calendar slots for you to choose from, and we have availability on [range of dates]. What works for you?
If you’re using Mixmax, it’s easy to share your availability in-email to reduce friction, either while you’re on the call or as part of follow up.
This is how sharing your availability in-email with Mixmax looks
Questions to understand decision-making and buying processes
These questions are designed to subtly find out whether the person you’re talking to has decision-making power or whether you need to target other stakeholders in the company when prospecting to enterprises.
31. I'll follow this call up with an email summary with some more information. I know this could be a big project, so should I include any information for anybody else?
Their answers should tell you who else is involved in the decision-making process, without forcing them to specify or give stakeholders’ names. So, if they ask for financials, you can be pretty sure their CFO will be looped in at some point.
32. Is there anyone else I should copy on follow-up emails?
33. Who else on your team may be important to loop in on the next call?
If your SDR is successful in booking the next meeting, the AE will take over and ask more in-depth discovery questions to gather insights to tailor a demo.
34. What made you realize you needed [solution to problem]?
Gets them to open up about pain.
35. How urgent is [problem] and need for a solution?
Allows you to understand urgency and timelines.
36. How does it affect everyone on your team?
Allows you to understand how to position your solution at the team level.
37. What have you tried in the past to solve this?
38. What hasn’t worked in the past when trying to address it?
These two let you know what other solutions or methods they’re using.
39. How do you plan to try and address it in the future?
Lets you know whether there’s an opportunity for you here, and how you need to focus on educating them about your solution.
40. What’s your top priority for [common goal]?
41. What do you see as your biggest obstacle to achieving [goal]?
42. Can you tell me more about the challenges you face? Are they more time-focused or cost-related?
43. If you don’t find a solution today, where do you see your team in 6 months?
44. Why is [feature/service] interesting/important to you?
Well, we struggle with X, Y, Z, which is an issue because…
45. Oh no! What happens then?
It’s causing us X, Y, Z problems…
46. Ok, so [feature/function] is an issue. What would happen if you fix it?
These five questions allow you to dive deeper into pain and challenges. You can also get them to expand on specific points by asking:
47. Can you give me an example of that?
48. Walk me through your process for…
49. Which tools are you using for…
50. How are these challenges affecting the growth of your business?
Yields insights into how you can help at company level.
51. If you overcame these obstacles, what would that look like? An increase in revenue or a reduction in costs, etc.? How important to you is [common goal]?
52. Who is going to benefit most from a change in this area?
These answers to these three questions tell you what success looks like for them.
53. How did you get involved with [current responsibility/project]?
To find out more about their role in a specific area.
54. What kinds of resources can I send you to make this process easier?
55. What other questions can I answer for you now?
These last two are asked before wrapping up the conversation, to establish what else they need to know.
Related Post: Enterprise Sales Prospecting: 10 Strategies to Land Large Accoun