Sales Course / Introduction to Selling Newsletter – Questioning techniques for better sales

“Give me someone of average ability with a burning desire and I will give you a winner in return; every time” Andrew Carnegie

In today’s challenging times highly productive and motivated sales staff are key to business survival. More and more managers are tasked with improving sales performance and training staff how to sell more. If you want to get more customers buying your products and services your sales team must be able to use productive selling techniques; sales closing skills; be confident in answering objections; even down to dealing with difficult customers.

We, at Total Success Training Ltd are always being asked if our Sales Training Courses and Telemarketing Seminars teach techniques ‘that really work’ in the real world’. The answer to that question is ‘YES’ because our trainers not only train sales techniques but have actually sold over the telephone in previous jobs. They are able to use their experience to train our delegates to understand the tools and techniques that will enable them to sell confidently and with flair.

We have over 20 years of sales training expertise and use our experiences to show the best and most practical ways to boost sales results and how to sell effectively.

This is a valuable foundation course that is highly structured, interactive and focuses on bringing out the best of our delegates in a supportive environment. Most people possess the ability to sell and negotiate and our trainers use their 20 years of selling and training experience to increase the confidence and competence of potential sales ‘superstars’.

Introduction to Selling, Telesales, Negotiation skills and Presentation Skills are some of the sales related courses trained by Total Success Training  throughout the UK.  If you require further information on our training courses please contact us.

 Uncovering Needs – questioning techniques

Of all the skills required of the super effective communicator, the ability to ask the right question at the right time is probably the most critical.

Use open questions when you want someone to explain or discuss something. Closed questions should be used when all required is a yes or no. Use both types of questions to gain better control of your negotiations. At the beginning of most types of negotiation or conversation you need to learn what the other party wants and needs, so you would use open questions. Later, you may need to employ closed questions to get their understanding and agreement; to understand a request or just to manage the conversation and your time.


  • keep you in control as the other party has to respond to your question
  • slow down the conversation
  • give you more information to help you to resolve the situation
  • give you time to think about your options
  • encourage the other party to talk
  • draw out information, facts and opinions
  • help to explore feelings and attitudes
  • help to check understanding
  • help the other party to think through the problem


They are useful for getting facts, opinions and feelings from the other party. Open questions can be identified by prefixes such as: how, what, why, where, who and when. They require the customer to think and give a reasoned response. They provide a means of uncovering needs and opening up an issue for more detailed and closer analysis.


Closed questions are used as a means of focusing on an issue or problem. They can often help to identify an issue more precisely. Such questions often start with: is, could, should, would, can, will, isn’t etc. They require responses such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, i.e. to agree or disagree; confirm or deny.

Open-ended questions are preferable for two reasons. First, they allow the customer to develop their own answer rather than putting words into their mouth which they may reject. Secondly they encourage them to talk, which at the beginning of a sale is important. You want a dialogue, not a monologue.

For example, if you ask a customer, “Does your organisation carry out training?”The answer will be either yes or no. If you wanted the customer to discuss the particulars of their training policy, you could ask:

 What types of training does your organisation carry out at the moment?

What staff skills is your organisation looking to develop in the next six months?

What has been the result of having a training policy in your company?

 Use open questions when you want a customer to explain or discuss something. Closed questions should be used when all you need is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Use both types of questions to gain better control of your telephone contacts. It is also possible to shorten telephone calls by effectively using open and closed questions.

Types of open question

“Overall how do you feel you’ve performed on this area of the business?”

“What can we do to improve the result?”

“What do you see as your main goal for the next year?”

“What would you feel would need to be done differently to improve the result?”

“What is your understanding of ………..?”

“Tell me more about why you felt that this has worked well?”

“Why do you feel that this area has performed less effectively recently?”

“How do you feel you have performed on the ……… compared to………?”

“Tell me how you got on with …………?”

 Probing questions are used to explore an area in more depth, for example:

Why was that significant?”

“What happened then?”

“Why was doing that significant to the overall result?”

“How did you go about that?”

“That is an interesting observation. Give me some examples so that I can understand exactly what you mean.”

“Were there any factors within your control which could have come into play here?”

“So, what would happen if ……………?”

“What other factors contributed to your achievement of this goal?”

 “What other factors helped to achieve the result?”

“What changes did you make to get past that difficulty?”

“Why do you think that worked for you?”

In both open and probing questions, it is important to allow pauses. If a difficult or thought provoking question has been asked, the other person needs to be given time to think. Silence is not something to fear. It will be obvious from their facial expression whether they are thinking about an answer or whether they are simply puzzled.

Reflective probes. These questions allow both parties time to discuss the feelings associated with a past experience. Ask with sincerity and concern, and try not to judge them by your tone of voice.

 “Because you don’t like documentation, does that mean you don’t put as much effort into it?”

“You say that part is difficult for you, how do you mean?”

“You didn’t seem to enjoy that experience?”

“You’re obviously upset that it turned out the way it did?”

“When did you start to think that was that was a problem for you?”

 Isolation questions. These allow you to identify the real reason for a problem

Restate the objection using a different phrase – to confirm that you are both talking about the same thing.

Is that the only thing that is stopping us from going further?

“That’s a valid point. Is that your only concern at the moment?”

“Apart from that, is everything else OK at the moment?”

Sales Courses – Introduction to Selling – Course Dates

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Who will benefit from the course?

This course is designed to give new salespeople the confidence to appoint, present to and close potential customers. Delegate numbers are limited to no more than six to allow an environment where the maximum learning can be achieved. We use a combination of learning methods but place emphasis on role-play reinforcement of real life situations based on products and services relevant to the delegate’s organisation.

Introduction to Selling Course Agenda

  • Introductions and objectives
  • The psychology and principles of selling
  • How to create positive first impressions
  • Building trust and rapport with your customers
  • Using questions to uncover customer needs
  • Listening skills
  • Understanding features and selling benefits
  • Identifying buying signals
  • Understanding and handling objections with ease
  • Closing the sale
  • Appointment making
  • Final paperwork and action planning

Our training is carried out in a risk free environment which encourages delegates to practice the skills needed for successful appraisals. We use a number of training methods including role-play, video, audio, workshops and group exercises to enhance the learning process.

Why choose Total Success for your training?

  • our lead trainers have over 18 years experience in training
  • a maximum of 8 delegates means more time spent on individual needs
  • we guarantee to run the course and will never cancel at the last moment
  • free subscription to our monthly training newsletter

All open courses are trained in Central London at the St Giles Hotel.

Each delegate receives a comprehensive training workbook that doubles as an open course manual. Courses run from 9.30-5.30 with lunch and refreshments provided.

In-Company Courses

Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget. Please call us to discuss your specific requirements

Total Success Training Packs

Why use a total success training pack

If you are looking to run your own training course but lack the materials and the time to develop a fully functional training seminar we produce a range of training materials and packs which will suit your requirements exactly. All of our packs and been written by our own training experts and we can guarantee that the training pack will satisfy your course requirements. Each pack will contain a full set of PowerPoint training slides, trainer’s notes, a course manual, and a full set of handouts and activities.

We have been running our courses since 1995 and have trained 1000’s of people via open courses and in-company seminars. We guarantee that the course you buy is the one we train. All courses are trainer and trainee friendly so you’ll be up and running quickly (depending on your training experience).

We know how difficult it is to choose amongst the many training materials available on line, that’s why we have 3 packages that will suit you needs. With our gold, silver and bronze packages you can choose the training format that’s right for you and your budget. Call us 0044 (0)208 269 1177 to discuss your requirements or email us

Related information

Total success training also produced a number of newsletter webpages that carry great information on all our training topics.  Below you will find a selection of related newsletter pages. You can click on any of the links and they will give you stacks of really interesting information relating to this subject t. If you like the content of these pages you can subscribe to our newsletter page and we will send you a newsletter every month. we update our pages very regularly so will always be more great information each time you log onto our site.
Click on any of these links for stacks of great tips and techniques sales and selling techniques

Total Success book’s and publications

The Book. If you really don’t have the time to attend one of our fantastic training courses and seminars, don’t worry. You can still enhance your knowledge and skills by purchasing training information from our website. Our lead trainer, Warren Wint has written a book entitled ‘Successful Time Management’ which is packed with tips and techniques to help you manage your time more effectively and more efficiently. You can purchase the book by clicking on the link below and downloading it to your own computer

Bite-sized Training Guides. We had also produced a range of bite-sized training guides on various subjects relating to all our training topics. These short guides are written to give enough information on the topics that interest you. We include topics such as managing e-mail, setting goals and prioritising, the art and skill of effective delegation, and managing busy workloads and deadlines. These are designed for you to work through your topics in approximately 30 to 40 min, and not only give you valuable information but also include exercises and activities to enable you to learn at your own pace and on the go. These are very competitively priced at 99p each because we want you to not only gain valuable information but also to keep coming back and purchasing more to enable you to become a fabulous manager of time. Click the links below and download our training guides as PDF documents so you will be able to start achieving your goals today!


We produce a range of podcasts and audio downloads that you can download to hear how we conduct our training courses. These are available in live audio if you click on the links below and it’s almost like being on one of our courses. They allow you to hear how we carry out some of the topics in our training courses. If you like them and want to hear more please go to our Podcast pages on the website

Listen to our Time Management Podcasts