39 B2B Qualifying Questions to Ask Your Sales Prospects

39 B2B Qualifying Questions to Ask Your Sales Prospects

Everything you need to know about qualifying sales questions can be summarized with two questions: Can I help them? And can they help me?

So why did we create a list of more than 30 sales qualification questions? Because getting the answers to those two questions means gaining a deeper understanding of who your prospects are and what they really need.

How do you do that? By asking the right qualifying questions.

What Are Sales Qualifying Questions?

Sales qualifying questions are questions asked early in the sales process to filter out prospects that are a poor fit so you can focus on qualified leads.

This step is crucial to closing more deals because when sales reps spend less time talking to prospects who aren’t a good fit, they have more time to focus on leads who are a good fit.

Let’s say you offer a free white paper in exchange for contact information like email and phone number. Your sales team gets a list of those prospects and does some research to focus on leads that are more likely to be a fit.

The next step is (especially in B2B) to jump on the phone and learn more about who the prospect is and their needs. Still trying to figure out what to ask? This list of sales qualifying questions will help you hone in on crucial details so you can customize your sales pitch and improve your chances of closing the deal.

Why Are Qualifying Questions Crucial in B2B?

B2B sales has one of the longest sales cycles in the industry, with the average lead taking between one and six months to close.

Asking the right questions reduces the time sales reps spend on unqualified leads, so they can redirect that time to leads who are more likely to purchase. It also helps highlight pain points so you can customize your outreach.

Whether you’re cold calling or sending personalized sales videos via LinkedIn, making sure those efforts go to the right people makes your sales efforts more effective.

Sales qualifying questions also serve as the foundation of your customer relationship. Gaining a deep understanding of their challenges

How to Use These 39 B2B Qualifying Questions

Sales qualification questions are one of the first steps in the sales process. At this point, you want to get to know your prospect and see if continued conversations are warranted.

The first category of questions on this list, the ideal customer profile, serves as a checklist to determine if you’re targeting the right companies. If you haven't already completed this step, now is the time to create your own ideal customer profile.

The remaining five categories—needs, decision-making, budget, competition, and closing the deal—cover the questions you can use to qualify prospects. You don’t need to go in order or ask every single question, but after asking these questions, you should know:

  • What do they need?
  • Who are the decision-makers and how do they make decisions?
  • Can they afford your product or service?
  • What other solutions are they considering?
  • Are they ready to take the next step, such as having another meeting, attending a product demo, signing up for a trial, etc.?

From there, you’ll know if you can help them and if they can help you.

Qualifying Questions to See if Leads are In Your Ideal Customer Profile

An ideal customer profile is one of the most powerful ways to identify companies that earn significant value from using your product/service and provide significant value to your company. If you don’t know which companies to target, you’ll struggle to hit your sales quotas or worse, close bad deals.

Qualifying Questions to See if Leads are In Your Ideal Customer Profile

1. What is your industry/niche?

Not every industry is a great fit for your company. For example, at Close, we notice that SaaS and startups tend to be a great fit for our product while other industries, like manufacturing, aren’t. Asking this question early in the sales process helps us hone in on the most valuable leads.

2. How long have you been in business?

Length of time in business can give you a feel for a business's stability and stage of growth. It can also determine which companies need your solution the most. For example, a startup's needs differ from a company that's been around for a dozen years.

3. How big is your organization? (Measured in revenue, number of customers, number of employees, etc.)

The needs of a small, early-stage startup differ from those of an older, more established enterprise company. While enterprise sales can be lucrative, it also can be challenging if you don’t know the rules of enterprise sales or can’t support an enterprise client once they’re a customer.

4. How large is [relevant department]?

If your solution is for certain departments (marketing, accounting, HR, etc.), you’ll want to prioritize their needs. Understanding the size of that department can help you qualify the lead and estimate how long the sales process will take.

5. Where are you located?

Location may or may not be relevant, but if you’ve noticed your ideal customers tend to be located in particular areas, use location as a qualifying criterion. This may also indicate their time zone so you can send outreach messages at the right time.

6. Are you [factor that makes them a bad fit for your offering]?

Sometimes the best way to qualify a sales prospect is to cut out leads that aren’t likely to convert. For instance, when qualifying prospects for our sales CRM, we ask prospects how many leads they usually have in their pipeline.

If it's less than 100 annually, we recommend they not buy our solution and just use a whiteboard or a spreadsheet. This isn’t entirely selfless, however. Over the years, we’ve learned leads like this are likely to churn because they simply don’t need the features we offer.

Qualifying Questions to Better Understand Needs

The most qualified prospects aren’t just in the right industry–they actively need your solution. These questions will help you zero in on top-priority leads.

Qualifying Questions to Better Understand Needs

7. How did you hear about us?

This is a killer sales question because it allows you to understand why the prospect is interested in your solution and provides insights into their challenges.

Ask this question early and use the information to adjust your approach when explaining product benefits. It’s a shortcut to real insights into their wants and needs, so you can have a more targeted conversation.

8. What are the top challenges your team or company is currently facing?

Prospects care about their challenges, not all the bells and whistles your product offers. Before ticking off features and benefits, ask about their challenges then explain how your offering is the best solution.

9. What are your top challenges?

In B2B sales, there are three levels of customer need: the company, the department, and the individual. Guess which level is most important? Remember, you’re not selling to an organization, you’re selling to a collection of individuals. Find out what they need in their day-to-day life and prioritize solving those challenges.

10. What results do you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve them?

Knowing a prospect’s challenges is a good start, but you need to dig past surface-level understanding. Say your prospect’s biggest challenge is increasing revenue. You could immediately launch into a pitch about how your solution increases revenue by saving time, but that would be pitching prematurely.

By asking the right questions (like this one!), you might learn that they’re really interested in increasing revenue using more effective advertising. That changes the dynamic of the conversation! Now you can tailor your pitch around their needs and interests.

11. When would you like to see these results?

Your prospect may need to have their challenges resolved by a certain deadline. The closer the deadline, the more urgently they will be looking for the right solution, which could help speed up the sales cycle. Knowing this will help you close the deal (hopefully faster!)

12. How would achieving these results benefit you, your team, and the company?

This question ties positive emotions to the resolution of their challenges and, by extension, your solution. What if your prospect wants to increase revenue because it means they could hire more employees and tap into a larger market? Their excitement about expanding is transferred to your solution when you explain how you can make it happen.

13. What are the consequences if you don't solve these issues?

Despite a company or individual’s challenges, they may still be distracted by other issues. By highlighting the consequences of not solving their problems, you create a sense of urgency and keep the conversation focused on the important issues at stake.

14. What motivated you to search for a solution now?

Understanding why they’re looking now can help you plan out the rest of the sales process. Prospects that recently experienced major change, such as a change in leadership or a large shift in the market, may have a greater sense of urgency in finding a solution, which would shorten the sales cycle.

15. If you’re not currently searching for a solution, why not?

A prospect may not be looking for many reasons, such as already using a competitor’s product, not having the budget, or not viewing your solution as a priority.

However, an outside perspective can motivate prospects to rethink their stance by, for instance, informing them of a better option, helping them find the money in their budget, or uncovering the opportunity cost of not having a solution.

While prospects don’t want an aggressive salesperson, they appreciate a salesperson who educates them and challenges their thinking.

16. Which features are must-have versus nice-to-have?

This question will help your prospect prioritize. Plus, it prevents you from pursuing deals that could never close because even though you have everything the prospect wanted, you didn’t have everything they needed.

17. Why do you need these particular features?

Your solution might not have one of your prospect’s must-have features. In that case, you must think like an engineer, not a salesperson.

A salesperson may be tempted to overpromise and underdeliver on a missing feature. However, an engineer will want to know why a prospect needs a feature and exactly how they plan to use it. This line of questioning can reveal if a feature is a deal-breaker or if a workaround is possible.

Qualifying Questions to Learn About The Decision Makers

B2B sales requires more than just having a great sales presentation and listening to your prospects. It also means making sure you’re talking to the right people. Whether you’re cold calling or reaching out on LinkedIn, these questions will help you find the right person.

Qualifying Questions to Learn About The Decision Makers

18. What role do you play in the decision-making process?

This is one of the most overlooked questions in the qualifying stage. The person on the phone may be an enthusiastic internal champion, but at the end of the day, you still sell to decision-makers. This will confirm you’re talking to key players ASAP.

19. How does your company or department make decisions?

Knowing who the decision-makers are is different from knowing how a company makes decisions. For example, one person or a group may have the final say, but the company or department might consider the opinions of important stakeholders, such as end users. If you’ve turned each stakeholder into an internal champion, you're more likely to close the deal.

20. Who has the final say in purchase decisions?

The larger and more complex an organization is, the more decision-makers there will be. Every decision-maker must be sold on your solution before you can make a successful sale. Knowing who those stakeholders are is the first step in closing the deal.

21. What concerns are these decision-makers likely to have?

Remember, you sell to individuals, not companies. Gain an edge by asking your internal champions what issues are more likely to attract or repel individual decision-makers. This can help you position your solution in the best light and prevent embarrassing or costly mistakes.

22. Which departments are involved in making a purchase decision?

This question is especially important when selling to large organizations. Even if the marketing department will be the sole department using your solution, the procurement and legal departments may be involved in finalizing and approving the contract. Use this simple sales hack to get your contracts signed quicker and keep legal issues to a minimum.

23. Who will be responsible for implementing or overseeing this service or product?

Even if the CEO loves your product, getting their approval is only the beginning of the deal. Generally, implementation is delegated to someone else. However, the person responsible for implementing your product won’t always share the CEO’s excitement, especially if it means more work with very little upside for them.

Find out who will be responsible for managing your product internally. Then sell that person on how it will benefit their company and their personal career. Otherwise, your product will be poorly implemented and you risk churn.

24. Do you have the resources and time to handle implementation and training?

This is especially important for large and/or demanding prospects. Implementing and training people to use your product can be expensive and time-consuming–but it's also crucial to ensuring they see value in your solution.

25. When do you want to make a decision and begin implementing a solution?

You now have a rough idea about how long the decision-making process will take, but you want to ask your prospect about a deadline in order to keep them accountable for and focused on making a decision.

26. How will you measure the success of our solution?

Knowing how the prospect will judge the solution's effectiveness makes it easier to highlight specific features and can help you prioritize the implementation process. Make sure to ask which metrics they want to track.

Qualifying Questions About The Budget

The best salespeople know that finding the right prospects isn’t just about who they are and what they need. Budget (or lack of budget!) can stop potential customers from closing a deal. Use these questions early in the sales funnel to understand if it's worth moving forward.

Qualifying Questions About The Budget

27. Who oversees the budget?

Earlier qualifying questions about the decision-making process should have helped you identify the person or department in question but if you haven’t, now is a good time to ask.

28 How much have you spent on similar solutions?

The budget for past solutions could determine the amount they’re willing to spend. You need to know where your pricing falls within their range. If your price falls below their range, your solution might be too cheap and if it falls above their range, you’ll need to convince them your value outweighs the price.

29. What is your current budget?

Things change. It’s possible they've spent more in the past but now have a tighter budget. On the other hand, maybe more money has been made available! If there’s a gap between what they spent on similar solutions and their current budget, you’ll want to know.

30. Have you ever gone over an approved budget? If so, what was the budget allocation process like in that case?

If your solution costs more than the intended budget, you’ll want to know about similar cases. This will help you gauge the chances of their budget being increased and what process to expect.

Have They Worked With Your Competitors?

Even if you specifically target early-stage startups, there’s a good chance your prospects have used one of your competitors–either in their current position or at another company. Finding out what they liked (and disliked) about their experience can help you tailor your pitches.

Have They Worked With Your Competitors?

31. Do you currently have a contract with another company? If so, when is it up for renewal? Is there a cancellation fee?

If your prospect currently has a contract, your job is two-fold: convince them that their current vendor isn’t the right choice and that your solution will make their jobs and lives better.

Don’t be surprised if your prospect isn’t interested in switching if they’ve recently signed or renewed their current contract. The key is to be patient and regularly follow up so when they’re ready to switch, your company is the first one that springs to mind. Keep them in your sales pipeline, but switch to a sales nurturing approach.

32. What has worked and hasn’t worked with your current solution?

Picking up on unmet needs is a great way to position your product as a better solution if your product can solve those issues. Start by offering small solutions now–such as a template or webinar–and use the time to better understand how you can help.

33. Why did you choose that particular solution?

When you're qualifying prospects, you mostly ask questions that focus on the present, but asking questions about the past can give you information about what they liked (or disliked) about past buying experiences. If their past buying experiences were positive, associate your solution with that success and use it as a model for the way you sell.

However, if their past buying experience was a flop, distance yourself from it and frame your solution as something completely different. How is your offer better? How does it protect them from missteps like these? Why won't they have to worry about making another bad choice if they choose you?

34. How does our solution compare to the competitor’s?

Prospects are savvier than ever. At the very least, you need to know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses so you can sell against the incumbent in your market. However, if you really want to blow the competition away, outcompete your competitors by pitching their product.

35. Are you considering building your own solution?

Don't overlook the potential competitor right under your nose: your prospect. Especially if they're developers, they might think they're better off building their own solution.

While that option provides more control, it might not be the most time-efficient option, particularly if they have to maintain and update it regularly. You might even have examples of current customers who initially invested in building their own solution, only to find out that long-term, it's not feasible.

Final Qualifying Questions to Help Close the Deal

You can’t expect to close the deal on the first sales call. However, there are a few questions that can improve your chances of closing the deal down the line.

Final Qualifying Questions to Help Close The Deal

36. What steps will help make this deal happen?

This is called the virtual close, and it’s one of the most powerful questions you can ask. Ask this question to learn what it would take to turn the prospect into a customer. This question provides a roadmap to the prospect’s buying process and uncovers any major red flags so you can address them.

37. Are there any obstacles that could prevent this deal from happening?

This question is essential. It prompts your prospect to identify potential roadblocks, so you can be proactive instead of reactive. In this part of the sales process, reducing the time to close is crucial.

38. Based on what we’ve discussed, do you think our solution is a good fit for your needs? Why or why not?

At this point, you should know whether the prospect is qualified, have a roadmap to the decision-making process, and be prepared for potential obstacles. This helps you handle objections that haven’t been addressed and re-confirm the prospect’s interest in your product.

39. We still need to cover [X and Y]. Can we meet with [stakeholder] next week? Does Wednesday work?

The best time to schedule a follow-up conversation is when your prospect is still on the phone! While you’re still talking, ask them to look at their calendar and schedule a time that works for them. Then, a day or two before the next meeting, make sure you send them an email to confirm your next appointment.

What’s Next in Your Sales Process?

These qualifying questions will give you a deeper understanding of your prospects and whether they're a good fit for your company. Use this information to inform your outreach, tailor your sales presentation, or find decision-makers. Remember to add this information to your CRM so everyone on your team can access prospect insights.

Did you know you can automate email follow-ups with Close’s email sequences? Watch the demo or try it out for free for 14 days.