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The power of asking the right questions


The best way to learn about your clients (or prospects) is to get them talking about themselves.  The more thoroughly you know your clients the better you are able to anticipate their needs.  And there is not really a more convincing demonstration of your interest and attention than knowing what is important to them and what is happening in their business at any given time. 


By learning these things, you have the basis of a strong professional relationship and by continuing to ask the right questions you also have established a very powerful process for gathering relevant client information.  We all expect our clients (and prospects) to invest in our experience, skills and products - what better way to encourage this than by showing your own investment in them.


In order to establish any easy and free transfer of information, you must first build a good rapport with your clients - and the only way to do this is to get them talking freely and openly.  However, you need to remember, they can’t be talking if you are - so don’t forget to take part in active listening.  You should also recognise the distinction between ‘hearing’ your client and ‘listening to’ your client.


Here are a few open-ended questions to help you get the ball rolling and you will be able to improvise your own once you’ve had some practice.


Generating general rapport

  • How’s business these days
  • If you had to give a ‘snap-shot’ account of your industry, what would you say?
  • How has doing business changed for you?
  • Has your role, or the things you do, changed significantly?


Uncover challenges and goals

  • What keeps you awake at night?
  • If you had no obstacles, what would you do with your business?
  • What exactly is holding you back from achieving your business goals?
  • If you could eliminate any difficulties in your business, where would you start?


Identify the impact of solving problems

  • Can you describe what ‘success’ looks like for your business?
  • How would implementing positive changes make you more competitive?
  • How would you evaluate the success which would result from these changes?
  • If you delay making changes, what possible effect will it have on your future?


Remember that the objective of establishing this rapport is not just to sell more services or products to your client, but rather to more fully UNDERSTAND their needs.  This understanding should allow you to provide a better overall solution and make yourself indispensable to them.


You will need to adopt the right language and tone for your conversations - most importantly don’t make it seem like an interrogation; try to keep it friendly and casual.