Effective Sales Follow Up Questions

16 min read
Sales

Five things to know about this topic:

  1. Follow up questions are usually open-ended questions that allow a potential buyer to provide more information about a topic during a sales conversation over the phone. 

  2. Your sales reps can use follow up questions to generate information from prospects and close more sales. 

  3. Follow up questions aren't always effective. Reps who ask too many questions from a pre-made list can prevent them from noticing openings and opportunities in conversations.

  4. Asking the right follow up questions, however, can result in incredible sales opportunities for agents and help you grow your business.

  5. This guide includes some of the most effective sales follow up questions. Reps can use these questions in future conversations and learn more about prospective customers. 

All sales reps know that preparation is the key to a successful sale. The best practice to tackle a sales call is to do pre-call prep work to properly understand the prospect and have a relevant conversation with them. After this, many reps also refer to a set of follow up questions that can help them lead a discussion and turn the prospect into a bonafide paying customer. 

In this guide, learn more about sales follow up questions and how to create more successful conversations over the phone. 

Contents

  • What Are Sales Follow Up Questions?

  • Reflect on the Issue at Hand

  • Rephrase Your Prospect's Words

  • Understand the Impact of the Prospect's Problems

  • Make Connections

  • Ask Again, If Necessary 

  • Keep the Flow Going

  • Use a CRM to Guide Questions

  • Has the Problem Happened Before?

  • Use Data Analytics Tools

  • Use Hypotheticals 

  • Ask Prospects to Rank Factors

  • Ask Direct Questions

  • How FiveCRM Can Help With Sales Follow Up Questions

What are Sales Follow Up Questions?

Sales reps often use follow up questions when engaging with prospects during phone conversations. These questions are typically open-ended so prospects can provide further information about a topic and help a rep learn more about their pain points, motivations, and purchasing habits. Closed-ended questions won’t provide reps with the information they need to nurture and convert prospects.

Sales follow up questions help reps adopt the mindset of a journalist and find openings in phone conversations to pursue further. This process will help them better understand and handle the needs of prospective buyers, build rapport, optimize sales strategies, and improve the flow and management of calls

Here are some examples of follow up questions used in sales conversations:

  • What did you mean by that?

  • Can you tell me why that happened?

  • What happened next?

  • Why do you think that?

  • Why is that important to you/your business?

  • How did you solve that problem?

As you can see, these questions can trigger responses from prospects that reveal valuable information for sales conversations, which can streamline the buying process and improve your bottom line. You can use them to pull information from prospective users and understand the deeper meaning of what they are trying to explain. These questions also signify that a sales rep is listening to a prospective customer and wants to learn more about them. 

While pre-prepared questions are a great way for reps to stay on topic and ensure they are asking everything necessary and relevant, the questions have potential downsides. The main problem is that these questions can create a distraction in the sales cycle. Sometimes, reps get so concerned about getting through questions on their list that they stop noticing openings and opportunities in conversations that help them understand prospects better.

By failing to truly listen to leads and understand what they are saying, your organization can easily miss necessary information. Ask too many questions, and the prospect might feel likely they are answering a meaningless questionnaire. However, when agents tune in to what prospective customers say, they can discover unspoken cues that will allow them to expertly pivot a conversation and understand the situation better.

If agents feel like there is something more to discover in a particular line of discussion, they should put their list of questions aside and use their best judgment to navigate a conversation. 

Here are some of the most effective sales follow up questions you and other decision-makers can use in your organization.

Reflect on the Issue at Hand

When leads (or even existing customers) air their concerns over the phone, always get to the root cause of their troubles. Asking a question like "Why is that so?" can allow your prospect to elaborate further and reflect on what the actual issue is or why it is occurring. Getting to the bottom of the problem is imperative to understanding the implications of the situation and learning about scenarios that will strengthen sales conversations.

Here's an example:

A potential B2B customer is using a software tool similar to yours. An agent wants to convince them to cancel their subscription with the other software provider and sign up for your product/service. The customer says their existing software doesn't fulfill the needs of their business. In this scenario, an agent can ask the qualifying question, "Why is that so?" to learn the customer's pain points concerning their existing software tool. That will help the agent describe the benefits of your product and how your service is different from the customer's current software provider.  

Rephrase Your Prospect's Words

A very powerful sales strategy for outbound teams is to rephrase what a lead says to move the conversation further. Paraphrasing is a great way to ask a follow-up question when a customer is explaining a point to you. Saying something like "So, what you mean is... ?" in response to something just mentioned can eliminate any misunderstandings and provide clarification. Questions like these will prompt the prospect to elaborate further and let them know you are paying complete attention to what they are talking about.

Here's an example:

A customer is complaining about existing technology and eludes to the product not providing value for money without explicitly saying it. By asking, "So what you mean is that your current product doesn't provide you with value for money?" can clarify what the customer means and move the conservation forward. At that point, the sales rep can describe the benefits of your product and why it provides value for money. 

Understand the Impact of the Prospect's Problems

Without understanding the impact of the problems a prospect is facing, there is no way a rep can help. Asking a question like "And how does that problem affect you?" will allow a prospect to explain how an issue impacts them and help a rep understand the prospect's pain points in greater detail.  

Here's an example: 

A B2B customer tells an agent that their current software system doesn't integrate data properly. The agent asks the question "How does that problem affect your company?" to learn the customer's pain points and their wider implications. The customer explains that inadequate data integration prevents their company from analyzing data and making better decisions. The agent can then explain how your product solves this problem and move the customer through their sales funnel. 

Make Connections

When trying to understand the story of a new prospect, the main objective is for sales reps to tie up loose ends and fit all the pieces together to view a bigger picture. This can be done by drawing connections between things the prospect may have mentioned earlier in the sales conversation.

An agent might ask a customer something along the lines of "Is this related to what you mentioned earlier about XYZ?" Asking this question allows the agent to make connections that will help them move the customer through their sales pipeline. This open-ended sales question also shows your prospect that the rep is paying close attention to everything they are saying, which can increase trust and engagement during a phone call. You can also make connections when communicating with prospects via email

An example of making connections during a sales conversation is when a sales rep notices a prospect is looking for a product with features similar to yours. The agent makes a mental note of this revelation before continuing with other follow up questions. Later in the conversation, the prospect says they want to achieve a particular goal in the next few years. The agent then asks, "Is that why you are looking for a product like ours?" which opens the prospect up to your product and gets them to think about purchasing it. 

Ask Again, If Necessary

There's no shame in a sales rep re-asking a question when they don't understand what their prospect said the first time. In many scenarios, a prospect might not answer a question completely, which is when an agent can easily re-ask that question without seeming like they weren't paying attention. The rep can rephrase the question in a slightly different matter without going off-topic or slowing down the conversation. 

The worst thing to do in this situation would be for a sales rep to pretend they have understood the answer to a question and move on without re-asking it. Always remember that if you don't properly understand what the prospect needs, you won't be able to help them adequately. Instead of wasting everyone's time, reps must be on the same page with their leads.

Here's an example:

A rep asks a prospect how much they would like to spend on a new insurance product. The prospect gives a vague answer without a monetary value — something like "I don't want to pay too much as I have a strict budget." The rep can rephrase the question and say "I understand, but how much are you willing to pay in dollars for that product?" The prospect might then give a more specific answer with a monetary value, providing the rep with essential information for navigating the rest of the sales conversation. 

Keep the Flow Going

Sometimes a prospect may need a little more prompting to open up about a certain topic or situation. At such a time, the simplest question can help them clarify information and encourage them to speak freely. 

If you think a lead is holding something back, train your sales reps to ask straightforward follow up questions like "Oh?" and "And?" These questions can encourage a prospect to elaborate further about a topic without breaking their chain of thought like other sales pitch questions might do.  

Here's an example:

A prospect says they want to achieve a particular objective without providing any context. An agent can simply say "Oh?" to encourage the prospect to talk more freely and reveal information that will support the rest of the sales conversation.

Use a CRM to Guide Questions

customer relationship management (CRM) system does much more than collect customer contact details like phone numbers and addresses. Your organization can use one of these platforms as a resource for sales conversations. That's because CRMs can contain valuable demographic information and other data to use in follow up questions during phone calls. For example, your CRM might include information about a prospect's interests and purchasing habits, which helps reps pull more specific information from people over the phone. 

Say you own a sportswear company and cold-call prospects on your contact list to generate more sales. Your CRM tells you that a prospect enjoys going on ski vacations several times a year. An agent who sees this information can ask a good sales question like "Do you need sportswear for your next ski vacation?" The prospect might respond "yes," which opens up the conversation and provides the agent with new opportunities to sell your products. 

Has the Problem Happened Before?

A prospective customer might want to solve a long-term problem during a sales conversation but doesn't mention the issue — unless an agent asks the right question. Asking, "Has that problem happened before?" after a prospect explains the issue can make them realize they need your product to prevent a problem from worsening. 

Here's an example:

A prospect says they are currently losing money because they don't have the right technology products to track cash flow properly. A rep asks "Has that problem happened before?" which encourages the prospect to reveal more about their predicament and actively consider your product to solve their long-term cash flow management issue. The rep can follow up this question with information about your product and how it helps the potential customer. 

Use Data Analytics Tools

Data analytics tools generate in-depth intelligence about prospective customers and sales processes, providing you with context for sales conversations. These tools let you identify trends and patterns in data sets, helping you predict what actions prospects will take as they move through your sales pipelines

Say an analytical platform reveals that prospects are most likely to convert into paying customers at a certain point in a sales conversation. Sales reps can use this information to ask the right follow up questions at the right time during phone calls and drive conversions. Using data in this way can result in more sales opportunities for reps and grow your business.

FiveCRM is a CRM with data analysis features, allowing you to combine business intelligence with customer relationship management. This platform can improve conversions by providing real-time information about customers and sales processes. 

Use Hypotheticals

Hypthotecial situations can help prospects visualize the benefits of your product and encourage them to sign up for your services. Good follow up questions like "What could you achieve in your business if you had an unlimited budget?" will get prospects thinking about their long-term goals. Following up this question with information about how your product can help meet those goals can result in more successful sales outcomes.

Here's an example:

An agent asks a prospect the following question: "If you could design a product that would solve all your business challenges, what would that product look like?" The prospect might then list several product features that match your product, allowing agents to explain the benefits of your offerings. 

Ask Prospects to Rank Factors 

Prospects who rank specific factors can help agents identify the best products and services to offer these potential customers. A sales professional can ask a prospect something like "On a scale of 1-10, how important is customer service to you?" That question lets the rep talk about the exceptional customer service you offer. A question like "On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank your current software?" creates an opportunity for a rep to talk about the benefits of your tool and why it's different from competitors' software. 

Here are some other sales follow up questions that require prospects to rank different factors:

  • "On a scale of 1-10, how important is pricing when looking for a new product?"

  • "What is most important when looking for a new product —customer service, pricing, or product features?"

  • "Would you rather spend more money on a product that will last a long time or less money on a product that lasts a shorter time?"

Ask Direct Questions

While most prospects hate hard selling, asking direct sales follow up questions — especially when trying to close a deal — can be extremely effective in driving conversions and sales. For example, an agent can ask "When would you like to try our product?" toward the end of a sales conversation. While this question puts the prospect on the spot, it could encourage them to sign up for a free trial or product demo. 

Other good follow up questions for your sales team include:

  • "When will you decide whether you want to sign up for our product?"

  • "When can we talk again?"

  • "What's the best time to have a second meeting?"

  • "How long will it be before you make a decision?"

How FiveCRM Can Help With Sales Follow Up Questions

FiveCRM is a CRM for telemarketing and lead generation that can help you execute more successful sales conversations. This software supports sales follow up questions in various ways: 

  • Access the latest data insights about prospects and sales processes to provide context for sales questions and improve sales training.

  • Access demographic and other information in customer records to learn more about prospects, build trust, and choose the best questions to ask during phone calls.

  • Create call scripts and guides that ensure agents ask prospects the right questions at the right time and improve your follow up strategy.

FiveCRM also facilitates successful sales conversations by storing customer information, quickly dialing phone numbers with its auto-dialing features, handling call center operations, improving the decision-making process, maintaining sales data, and managing callbacks. The platform suits both B2C and B2B environments and can double your call rate. 

Other benefits of FiveCRM include: 

  • Workflow automations improve sales efficiency for outbound calls and close deals. Sales managers like you can also reduce call transition times and prevent wasted time in the call center. 

  • Access up to 999 separate databases and get unlimited data storage for growing and scaling your call center operations. 

  • Specialized performance and marketing tools capture high-value sales leads and monitor operational performance in your workplace.

  • Lead scoring tools help salespeople nurture the most lucrative leads on your contact lists. You can customize these tools to your specific sales pipelines. 

  • Flexible platform access lets you obtain and track real-time data about performance. You can also use key metrics to boost sales growth. 

  • Improve outreach, sales performance, follow up emails, and become a more successful call center.

Sign up for a demo and change the way you communicate with prospects over the phone. Email hello@fivecrm.com, or get FiveCRM now

Michael King says...

"I can’t think of a time where a client has requested something that we weren’t able to do with FiveCRM. Unlike most systems, it has a lot of flexibility."

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Managing Director, Senior Response

JANE HUSBANDS SAYS...

“Each client, and each of their campaigns, has its own unique specifications. We essentially needed to set up mini CRMs on one platform to meet those requirements.”

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Operations Director, Team Telemarketing

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