The first issue with asking prospective clients questions is: Do YOU have the inclination to do so? Many people go right into a discussion of their capabilities or products, their company, etc. without enough “discovery” taking place. I like the adage that anyone who goes into a presentation without performing some needs-analysis first is NOT a professional!
The next question for us to consider is: Are we asking good questions that are relevant? Gone are the days when we asked customers “Do you need anything today?” The more creative and in-depth the question, the more elaborative and in-depth the answer. Here are a couple of categorical examples of what we might ask today:
- Competitive Leverage Questions: “In your annual review meeting with your existing vendor, did they put new ideas on the table for performance improvement or cutting edge solutions to your problems?”
- Front-loaded Open-ended Questions: “In light of your industries improvement trends, how do you plan to alter your inventory counts?
- Pain-Point Questions: “You mentioned in our last visit that the quality of product components had become a major issue for your company. Have mandates from upper management come through for fixing these problems as yet?”
- Close-Ended Questions: “When do you anticipate that a decision will be made on the proposal we have on the table with you?”
- Questions on Complex Issues: “I understand there are four people in your decision loop – Do you have specific suggestions as to how I might be able to ask them some needs analysis questions as well?”
Become a student of asking really good questions, and your performance will soar!