Have you ever met someone new and they really appeared to want to get to know you? They ask great and appropriate questions with energy and excitement and before you know it you have told them your life story! This can, and does, happen in business as well IF you ask the right questions with energy and excitement. Sounds so simple but it is an art.
Here are 10 “Question Artist” tips for you:
1. Prepare – know as much as you can about the person you are meeting with – their place within their company, their community involvement, their business, their business category, their competitors – you get the picture.
2. Research – don’t just scan their website, or look for their ads in the paper, on the radio, on TV, on the internet. Subscribe to their newsletters and read them. Are they registered on Twitter? If so, look at their tweets. Do they, or more importantly, their company have a page on facebook? Is your contact on LinkedIn? Who are they linked to? Anyone in your network? If so, this is another source for great information. Dig deep.
3. Write your questions prior to the meeting and put them in a logical order – do not try to “wing it”. Besides, it will be a signal to your client you cared and prepared. It shows respect. Having said that be prepared to digress should the conversation change direction. Which takes me to #4.
4. Do your best to keep the process conversational rather than appearing like an interview. Interviews can be so stale and boring and scary. Ugh! Bring some energy and excitement into the room with you – it can be contagious. Let it flow just as you would at a social gathering.
5. Ask factual questions – Who? What? Where? When? Why?
6. Ask interpretive hypothetical questions – How would things be different if…? How will something look if…?
7. Ask one question at a time. No complex, multi-part questions. Be specific and use as few words as possible. Ask your question and be quiet. Don’t overcomplicate it!!
8. A great follow-up question is “what do you mean by that?” It will take them and you to the next level of understanding.
9. Save the tougher questions for the latter part of the discussion. Hopefully by then you have gained some trust and you will get the answers you need.
10. Leave your nervousness in the car! The worst that can happen to you is you get thrown out or you puke. Either way you will live to see another day. This may be the most important appointment of your day but I can assure you your client isn’t looking at it with that intensity. Have fun getting to know the client and their business. And it’s OK to let them know you too! That’s how relationships and trust are born and today it’s all about relationships and trust! Remember from one of my past writings – we ALL want to belong and we ALL want to be missed. That includes your client.
Some of you may be asking, “Why is she writing about this when her business is training people how to use the digital space to grow their business?” Asking great questions and gathering information about your clients’ goals has everything to do with my training. If you aren’t gathering this information effectively all the training in the world won’t help you. For more information, to ask questions or just to chat please contact me at Margie@focusoncustomersuccess.com. But be prepared, I love to ask questions!