How to Ask Probing Sales Questions Carefully to Avoid Losing Business Leads


Probing questions are an important part of the lead generation and qualification process. These questions help you better understand exactly what it is that your lead is looking for, or what problem they may be struggling with. This, of course, is just one of the many sales techniques that your team will need to hone, but it鈥檚 an important one.

In the guide below, we鈥檒l take a look at probing questions, including what they are, how they can help you, and more. Plus, we鈥檒l even take a look at what probing sales questions should be doing for you and how to use them to make decisions easier for your leads.

What are probing questions?

Probing questions are uniquely created to encourage detailed thought on a specific topic. It helps people consider the deeper facets, in this case, of the buying journey, to make the right conversion move. Ultimately, you鈥檙e trying to use these questions to get prospects to reveal information that will help you make a sale or get the conversion.

You may get information that the prospect didn鈥檛 disclose right away. For example, you might have a prospect with a secondary pain point that you can solve with a total conversion in your sales pipeline. You wouldn鈥檛 know that, though, if you didn鈥檛 take the time to ask probing questions. You also have to make sure that you鈥檙e asking the right questions.

Examples of probing questions

路聽 What problem can we solve?

路聽 What is your budget like?

路聽 Why do you think that鈥檚 so? (In regard to a statement the buyer might make)

路聽 What will help you decide on closing?

路聽 Why isn鈥檛 your current product/service working?

The first question allows you to quickly understand what the issues at hand are and what the prospect is hoping to gain from resolving them. You can鈥檛 just accept the first answer and leave it at that, though. You have to keep probing. Ask who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. The right questions will lead you right to the perfect path to turn prospects into customers.

You might even find that there鈥檚 more than one issue at hand and that you鈥檙e being charged with solving. It gives you a chance to build rapport, showing the prospect that you care. Asking about their budget also helps you assume the buying process for them. Instead of saying, 鈥淚f you work with us鈥︹ you can say, 鈥淗ow much can you afford to spend with us?鈥 This makes them think ahead and put themselves in the position of a buyer or customer and not just a lead.

It's also important to find out why they鈥檙e looking for a new solution鈥攚hat鈥檚 wrong with the one they have or had? Has there ever been a solution or is this going to be the first? If you鈥檙e becoming a new solution for someone, they might be trying to make a certain improvement on their existing solution. If this is their first need for your products or services, you need to make sure that you make a great impression. And if you鈥檙e replacing the competition, you need to make an even better one.

How to make sure you鈥檙e asking the right questions

There鈥檚 more to probing questions than just inquiring with your customer about their needs or problems. It鈥檚 about getting as much information as you can about your prospect so that you can create the best possible closing pitch to seal the deal. Whether your internal sales team or outsourced sales outreach team is asking them, when you are using probing sales questions, you鈥檒l want them to do things like:

路聽 Help determine the competition

路聽 Single out a decision-maker

路聽 Pinpoint the frustration or pain points

路聽 Identify issues and problems from the start

路聽 Determine priorities and urgency

路聽 Qualify prospects

路聽 Fast-track your close

路聽 Clarify what the customer expects

路聽 Help you understand the buying process

路聽 Identify previous challenges

These questions will also help you gauge how ready your prospects are for change and whether it鈥檚 time for your business to step in and close the sale with a much more targeted perspective of your audience than before.

The more you know鈥

When it comes to prospecting and qualifying leads, the more you know, the better off you will be. You鈥檒l have much better odds of successfully converting prospects and delivering the exact right solution for their pain points, no matter what those might be. The more helpful you are by digging deep with probing questions, the more likely you are to become the prospect鈥檚 first choice for the solution to their problems. It鈥檚 a cycle, and it鈥檚 worth having all of your sales reps learn to manage.

It's all too easy to lose leads in today鈥檚 instant gratification world. The Internet gives people short attention spans and an overwhelming number of options. While the latter seems like a perk, it鈥檚 actually a detriment. You see, as humans, we struggle with choice. Thus, the more options we have, the more likely we are to struggle with making any moves at all. If you use probing questions properly, you can deter people鈥檚 fear of too many options and help them pinpoint exactly what they want and need from your business.

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Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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