How to Ask a Closing Question

By John Aberle | Sales and Marketing

Feb 01
Graphic of hand to ear for listening

How to ask a closing question? Ask then ask and wait patiently for your prospect’s answer.

Although I used to hate this piece of advice, I must say that sales trainers could really get your attention with the following advice: “When you ask a question …” Then he would pause a moment and next he would yell, “SHUT UP!” He would finish with, “He who talks first loses.” For some people this attitude works. But if you care about building trust and relationships, it’s not a matter of win-lose. So if you want to sell and market with heart, you can have a better approach to how to ask a closing question, one that leads to a win-win.


It’ all about your attitude. Where are you coming from when you ask your closing question? (By the way, a closing question is one that asks the prospect to make a decision that leads to a purchase. It may be an intermediate step, like, “What color would you want?”) Heart centered salespeople should know very well what their prospects want before they get to the “close.”

The following are some of the main things you need to know:
•    Wants
•    Needs
•    Problems
•    Desires
•    Your solution(s)
•    Any changes or tweaks to fit prospects’ desires
•    Agreement on what solution looks like
•    Quantity
•    Delivery
•    Motivations – how important is this problem to getting it fixed
•    What’s in it for them personally? (emotional or feeling)
•    Ability to buy – authority, cash or budget allocated
•    Agreement on any other terms, like 10%net30, installation included, etc.

Your goal, after all, is to help your customers buy when they are ready.

Now when you ask a closing question, whether about buying or even about things leading to buying, like, “How soon do you want this installed?” you need to be quiet once you ask for a decision. If you want to know how to ask a closing question, that’s it: ask, then be quiet. Give your prospect time and space to think about his answer because he who speaks first makes the decision.

In traditional selling, they would tell you that he who talks first loses. The truth is that buyers need to think over their answers-. They have to weigh the pros and cons of going forward or of going forward now. How important is this purchase really compared to all the other things demanding me to spend my limited budget? Give them your respect by sitting or standing quietly as long as they need.

If you interrupt to add one more idea or to offer a discount or to sweeten the deal, you will do several things. First, you show you’re rude and care more about the sale than about their needs. Additionally, you interrupt their thought processes. The most common thing to happen after you do that is they put off the decision until later. They’re going to think about it – when they’ll have no interruptions!

So if you love selling and marketing with heart and if you live to help customers buy, then learning how to ask a closing question is easy because you already have the right attitude. The first part of doing it right is to fully understand your customers’ needs, wants, problems or desired outcomes, and how important they are, i.e. how motivated they are to act now.  You also want to be sure that they agree with your proposed solution. When you feel you have all the information that confirms you are ready to help your customers buy, the key to asking successful closing questions is to confirm your facts and their reasons for acting so they have both the emotions and the logic they’ve agreed upon already. Then ask your question and be quiet while they think it through. Occasionally, you will even find that they close themselves when you have their trust. I have.

Selling and marketing with heart,


John R. Aberle
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About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.